26 03, 2012

Writing again

March 26th, 2012|dealing with life, listening, love|3 Comments

Here I am again, writing after a year or so. I could have let the domain name expire, but felt at some time I would feel like writing again. And now I’m back.

I stopped writing because I felt that how I wrote (not what I wrote, but how) wasn’t helping me or others. Sure, people said lots of great things – when my blog was on myspace (remember when people actually used it?) at one time each post got around 100 comments. It gave quite a buzz; I don’t think I got one really negative comment. I had thought carefully about what I created and some of the thoughts were unconventional. Hell, I even got a few dates from some local women that perhaps thought I must be a great guy. But it became more and more effort and less rewarding. The praises felt empty, and it wasn’t self-fulfilling.

One really big reason is that I wasn’t being that real. I of course didn’t want to show how f***ed up I am, who I dislike, my own neuroses – and perhaps that I was trying to escape from my own problems by playing healer to others.

That last one is IMO probably the most common motivation for everyone in the healing, counseling or personal growth field. It’s so common it is generally overlooked. So much ‘help’, in whatever form it comes in, does little more than convince the ‘helpee’ that they are being helped and then prop up the egos of both sides. The Bowen family systems theory called this the “overfunctioning-underfunctioning” dynamic. It’s a form of connection that seems to feel good to both sides at the time, but reinforces the escape from deeper issues. From my experience, I think the writer gets to feel admired and like a ‘healer’. The reader gets to think they’re improving and doing good work – but all at the cost of ignoring some deeper voices.

I read a lot of Alice Miller a couple years ago, and this quote stuck with me:

“In the last few years I have learned more than ever about the situation of the child in our society and about the blockages in the thinking and feeling of psychoanalytically trained persons.  These blockages often result in patients being subjected to lengthy treatments that cement the blame that had been leveled at them as children, a process that can scarcely lead to anything but depressions.  The most successful means of escaping such chronic depressions is to enter the profession of psychoanalysis oneself; this permits a continuation of the cementing process by using theories that protect one from the truth – but now, of course, at the expense of others.”

– Alice Miller, Banished Knowledge

If you’re a regular reader of personal growth writing, ask yourself if any of it really helped with the inner shame and blame that you might have. I’ve been to a number of counselors, coaches and other forms of healing in my search for inner peace and harmony, and I had to admit (after months of reflection) that they were generally counterproductive. I went there because subconsciously I thought something was wrong with me – there was something that needed to be solved in me. Fixed. Gotten rid of. Perhaps it was pain, or maybe that a normally quiet voice inside me suddenly screamed “NO!!!” at certain times when I was supposed to act ‘normally’ or when I needed to follow through with something. And so I wanted the quick fix; within a few session I wanted to be able to relax, not get in my own way, feel better, and succeed. Even if I knew it didn’t exist, I wanted The Quick Fix. But part of this inevitably meant that I thought a part of me – the part of me that resisted or said no – was bad. And so I increased my shame. I reinforced patterns of suppression and avoidance, not listening to the part of me in pain, which lead over the years to physical symptoms.

Now, in all honesty, I hate any sort of ‘healing environment’ which advocates pushing through barriers through some sort of peer pressure, firm rules and groupthink. It may get things to move in the short term, but that sort of forcefulness always has violence of a form in it, and violence is never the road to peace and harmony.

I stopped writing because I felt that I didn’t want to pretend any more. I didn’t want to play healer or imply I could help others. I didn’t want to hide my own traumas and symptoms out of fear of judgment or that it meant I was worth less or that I shouldn’t be listened to. You don’t always know the reason you do things at the time – it just doesn’t feel right or true. Writing from the same place didn’t feel true. I edited my thoughts way too much before they came out. It was the same editing I did as I child, walking on eggshells to make sure I didn’t say the wrong thing and a blow up would happen.

Now I just want to let go of all that. I don’t want to review my postings, combing words for ways I could be judged. It turned my mind into fog and exhaustion from the effort. Literally.

So here I am, and I think I’ll keep writing, but from a different place. I don’t think I’ll review it too much, so it might not be as smooth. But perhaps you’ll be able to relate to me a little more.  Even if I get judgments or suggestions of people trying to heal me (which now I realize are the same thing) I think I’ll be in a better place.

26 07, 2007

the innocence of anger

July 26th, 2007|beauty, innocence, listening, love, Self, spectrum, wholeness|4 Comments

For this blog I’ll write about anger. It’s a greatly misunderstood emotion in our culture. It’s both decried and cultivated at the same time. There are enormous mixed messages we get on a daily basis, and because of this, many people have walled away any possibility of this emotion being shown. To an extreme, there might even be a message that it’s best to always step back and “see the perfection of the other” – which involves walling away anything critical – rather than show any anger.

Now, let’s look at anger directly. I hope you can pause here to look at it with me; we all have it inside ourselves. Think of someone or something that simply pisses you off. Please sit with it a while; listen to it. This isn’t about a venting process, which is what happens when the easiest words are found. Listening is a deep, meditative process that doesn’t wish anything to go away or be fixed. Pay attention to what it really wants to say. Listen to it equally if it’s to someone else or to yourself.

(I hope you take a few moments to breathe deeply and listen to yourself here)



When I hear anger, it’s a voice with power that says “Something isn’t working here. Please listen!”. That’s all. No violence at all. What isn’t healthy about that – speaking out when something doesn’t work?

What most people confuse with anger is projection. Projection naturally happens when there’s a total non-acceptance of a real process going on within. It says “this is not mine! It must be yours.” And thus a violence caused by the rupture that begins totally with Self. Thus, if something isn’t working internally and there’s denial that it IS within, there is a constant push externally that is the anger turned into projection. Of course, in this case, there is nothing the outside world can do to change the internal world of the person, so “help” turns two ways: either to encourage listening and care of Self, or to encourage numbness so the inner turmoil isn’t felt. Many “safe” atmospheres encourage the numbness by creating a whitewashed atmosphere where all possible triggers are removed.

To look at healthy anger, a good example is Gandhi. Gandhi made it very clear the behavior of the British in India wasn’t working; it caused tremendous suffering, he did everything in his power to encourage people to listen and see it clearly. He focused solely on the behavior of the British, not the British themselves, who were generally wonderful people. He did not make them wrong (i.e., use projection), but focused on behavior that was changeable – and so documented the systematic methods of poverty and oppression that occurred in those colonial times. People wouldn’t think it was anger, because there was no rage or violence at all. He moved from a place of power that no one could take away, and part of that was his non-violence. But the root energy was anger – simply in a very evolved form. It was again, “This isn’t working – Please listen!”. This goes back to earlier posts expressing there are no “bad” emotions. Any emotion can be transformed to a place where it services mankind. Without exception.

An example closer to home might be a mother watching over a child. If the child places itself in danger, the natural response tends to be anger. In a mother with no shame of their anger, this comes out as a clear “get back! I care about you!” I’ve been lucky enough to see people without any shame of their anger, and the response children have to this is lovely. They will tend to smile, because the anger clearly comes out of Love. However, if there’s significant guilt and pain surrounding anger, all of this inner division comes out in the communication. The result is that it feels awful, because with the disharmony expressed in that shout, the love in the communication doesn’t shine through. The crux is that the problem is with the disunity, not the anger.

One of the false images people have of anger is that it’s a way to attack the other person. However, if you’ve ever seen someone “let it all out”, without defenses, it is an incredibly vulnerable state. We tend to go through life guarding against others knowing what we care about. Showing anger without guile or protection puts it all out on the table. You are making what you passionately care in plain view all to see and touch. People subconsciously protect against this because of the possibility the other person will use that vulnerability to attack. This is of course, very valid; it happens fairly regularly. Those who wish to use this vulnerability to attack may bait others, waiting for others to let loose so they can then give a “sucker punch” of a sort. This doesn’t take anything away from those who reach this kind of vulnerability; it takes great courage to be fully open this way. Most people get angry half-heartedly. They let the other person know they are angry, but they don’t get to vulnerability. Others tend to feel this lack of vulnerability and react defensively. Many activists are in this state.

When it comes down to it, anger deserves a deep and profound listening, like everything else. It is often a healthy desire for boundaries. Sometimes it is the simple message that something isn’t working, and thus can be a “cover up emotion”, pointing to a geyser of other emotions that are crying out to be released. But the anger itself is not a problem. It is something that needs to be given a loving space of listening, not “fixed”. There is nothing that needs to be done with it, other than listening. Allowing it transforms it, and lets everyone involved see what truly wasn’t working. This is a gift to the world.



Now, the events of the last few weeks as described in the last blog for me brought up a lot of anger. Quite frankly, I love my anger. And because of that, no one would ever describe me as an “angry person”. I love that I speak up when something doesn’t work. I love that I do my best to do it from a vulnerable space. Sometimes I fall flat on my face, but that’s what learning’s about. Look what happened in the previous blog – there are great benefits to getting to a place where support is needed!

Be whole.

23 07, 2007

an allowing space

July 23rd, 2007|allowing, emotions, listening, love, tears, triggering|0 Comments

This one has more of a glimpse into my personal journey, dealing with a large triggering of pain inside me, and the compassion that came from it.

The last couple weeks have surprisingly full of triggers for me with an online group that I’ve been part of, a group related to the Michael teachings. Although it was somewhat painful and resulted in me distancing myself away from it, great lessons came up for me.

Essentially, in this group, which is spiritually oriented and focused on balance and behaving with compassion, a few people (some of whom were moderators) behaved very differently in private emails than they did in public. In one case, it was flaming; throwing insults, wishing pain and destruction, being quite nasty. This went to the level of being an online stalker over the past few months, and there were some phone calls and text messages as well, all nasty and wishing pain. This was primarily to Karen,
but to a lesser extent to me.

What triggered my own pain was that the online group (although I’ve met most of the people on it face to face), which styles itself as focused on community and support, was totally unsupportive of bringing this up publically. It was “a private matter”, and it didn’t matter if it got to abusive actions, it wasn’t their business. Even if the other person (who was part of the group) made nasty innuendo publically. The hypocrisy of this struck me – the philosophy of community and support seemed to be thrown by the wayside. The moderators even suggested the police, showing they understood the scope of the issue somewhat, but refused to do anything themselves. It came to a crux Monday. I’d posted publicly what was going on as factually as I could, without any blame that I could see, and was basically told “personal issues involving people we know are not something we want to see on here”. Nice support there! It brought up a lot of pain inside me – especially long term stuff related to support.

So that’s the background. However, this is about my personal journey, not any rant on the flaming the anonymity of the internet can bring. Such things abound in this extremely isolated society we’ve created. What resulted next is what’s important.

 

 


Karen called me to offer her support on it Monday, and was indeed incredibly supporting. What was unusual and special about the call was not anything she said. The entire call, lasting close to 90 minutes, did not have many words in it at all! She simply gave me space to be who I was, which included the pain that was occurring. There was absolutely no “problem” to fix, nothing to resolve, nothing to make go away. It was simply two people with much love for each other simply being present, and the fact that there was a large amount of pain was incidental.

So what happened? Of course, like anyone in pain, at first I wished other people would change so I wouldn’t have to be triggered like this. I’m human too! Though I knew it was a triggering, so I didn’t identify too much with these thoughts. After muddling along, gradually accepting that there was no escape from the inner landscape I was in, I started scribbling on a drawing pad in charcoal. No definite shapes; just dark, sharp movements, expressing the chaos inside myself right now. Balls of small abysses accumulated on the page, bringing form to my internal world at that moment. It didn’t last long, but was enough to bring more acceptance and flow to what was coming. Karen was silent all through this. This was not a silence based on zoning out; she was present with me, with her full attention at hand. There was nothing that needed to be said; her presence said it all.


Her words describing her state were “It was about holding a space open for you, and acknowledging the perfection of whatever it is you were experiencing. In that moment, it was perfect, and there was no need to exert influence to change. I knew you were capable of doing it yourself.”



Soon enough, I felt more open to myself, breathing more fully, and lied down on the couch. Tears came. Tears, tears, and more tears. There were no reasons for the tears at first, and I didn’t need any. Some times reasons are like a straightjacket, restraining the human dance of emotions. I simply allowed what needed to come out. The expansive presence that was created in that moment created a magical, permissive atmosphere. This was no exercise of catharsis as seen in workshops; it was simply a gentle allowing that fully reincorporated parts of me back into myself. Tears flowed for the better part of an hour. Karen felt the pain, but didn’t see anything to fix at all. The warm silence continued. After tissue after tissue got tossed away, I came to a realization: I discovered I didn’t really know what true support was. I wanted it of course, but didn’t have the knowledge that can only come from repeated experience. This not knowing was profoundly opening; it brought me to see how much support I was getting in that moment. Funny how not knowing and seeing go hand in hand.

Going through my own pain and the openings this created helped bring me to a more neutral space about the online incidents. I’ve backed away considerably with those groups, because it’s clear that their version of support and community is quite restrictive to me; it’s based on protection instead of vulnerability. But this is perfect; they simply want different things. I’ll continue to meet these same people face to face (except the person who did the stalking), but won’t expect any support from them. Paradoxically, this whole experience helped me find far more support for myself; the experience of spacious allowing and acceptance has followed me since. The image I’ve had of support has changed from one of a building’s unshakeable foundation to something like an open space to play in, based in the present moment.

All of this has been intrinsic to my exploration of universal Love; it’s brought more of a visceral understanding, and definitely brought strides in living it with myself and others. My friend
Sophie got a whiff of that Friday!


..



(oh yes, and btw, it was my birthday Saturday! It was wonderful! Here’s a picture of me to celebrate. No, this wasn’t taken on my birthday – rather a few weeks ago – and I love it! The background is one of
Sophie‘s paintings, in my home.)

7 04, 2007

On Intimacy

April 7th, 2007|allowing, Intimacy, listening, love, relationships|2 Comments

The magical state that is our glimpse of oneness can be called by many labels, including “intimacy”, but my favorite is the term “essence contact”. It speaks of the frivolous aspects of our personalities (including fears and expectations) stepping aside and letting the core of our selves connect with another. This passes by all this images we have about it.

It’s hard to describe how to get there because it is after all a very natural thing. Look at the way a baby interacts with the world – with wonder. Every touch is a fully present touch, an invitation to explore. The effect this has on others is magical.

There is no difference between intimacy and meditation. Each comes from a state of division-less. There is no “other”, no “I am this, and I want that, which I am not”. There is only a wholeness that comes of no separation inside one’s self; no difference between “outer” and “inner”. In true intimacy, there is no difference between “the other” and “yourself”, because at that moment, there is union.

It’s good to also differentiate between intimacy with another and intimacy with yourself. Intimacy with yourself is always a prerequisite to intimacy with another, and the intimacy you have with another is never more than the intimacy you have with yourself. Intimacy with one’s self largely falls under the heading of “know yourself”, and is also meditation. Most relationships will focus on intimacy with each other, which often leads to frustration if there is not time and space given to self-intimacy as well. We all know about this â???? it’s like banging your head against a wall that gets harder and more immovable the more you bash against it.

What’s very humorous about the whole topic is that intimacy is extremely easy to achieve. It’s a natural human condition. If you want to learn about intimacy at its basic nature, hang around babies; they don’t know any barriers yet, so they touch the world and others in a basic, unfiltered manner. You touch a newborn baby and you’re touching their soul; there is no separation. We can all return to that place very easily. All it requires is a willingness not to resist it. That is, not to resist ANYTHING. You cannot be in a place of intimacy and vulnerability within a sphere of protection against any feelings going on inside.

Building on this, for us adults, many things can block intimacy, but in my eyes they come down to fears and expectations.

If you look at a fairly ‘normal’ person in our society, despite the best intentions to head into a relationship with an open heart, there are fairly standard expectations. Some I’ve seen are:

– Their partner should think of them as the “only one” for them and act accordingly.
– Their partner should never be critical of them and should always be unconditionally supporting.
– Couples should spend as much time together as they possibly can, and should always be first on each others agenda.
– Their partner should demonstrate affection and love in a very specific manner that means something to them.
– Their partner should understand them fully.
– Their partner should never feel attraction to other people.
– Good relationships should never have shit come up.
– No matter how negative or destructive you are, the partner should always be there.

Perhaps you’ll recognize some of them! To see how a block might happen, say a person in a relationship feels a strong attraction to another outside the relationship. They don’t want to leave the relationship, and don’t do anything to further it. However, their partner feels what’s going on and gets angry â???? a very natural result of having these expectations. So the person resolves to “wall away” these feelings, resulting in an inner separation between what’s “acceptable” and “not acceptable”. The consequence of this is a lack of wholeness, and therefore intimacy within one’s self. This means that this person cannot actually bring their whole self to the other, resulting in a lack of intimacy in the relationship.

Note that there’s a world of difference between agreements and expectations. Agreements are conscious and can be very clear, providing a nice foundation for intimacy. If there’s an agreement to be monogamous (very useful in most cases!), and one person breaks it without a talk to change the agreement first, there’s a very natural erosion of trust. It also speaks of lack of integrity/lack of self-intimacy. Integrity and intimacy with one’s self are very intertwined.

Any expectation is a barrier to intimacy. No exceptions. Any condition, such as “I’m not willing to see the anger seething inside you” blocks the person’s whole being from true intimacy, since intimacy is related to wholeness. Note that this is VERY different from not accepting behaviors. Anger can be welcomed as part of the other’s experience of life; welcoming violent and/or disrespectful behavior is very inadvisable! To be able to see, in the moment, the innocence of the source of the behavior while being firm with boundaries about some behaviors (such as venting anger at you) is absolutely essential and a great help to the world.

I’ve noticed I can be frustrating in a relationship because my natural inclination is to value a relationship only as much as the intimacy in it. I don’t judge relationships based on how long they lasts. I don’t care much about “building a life together”. Those things are in the future, not in the present moment. Most people approach relationships such as “if only the other person would commit to me, if only they’d be completely open with me, then maybe we’d have the intimacy we need”. I try to approach relationships from open eyes that ask “is there intimacy here?”. That is, intimacy in every moment, a welcoming from the heart. If there is, then each moment is a foundation for the next; that momentum can indeed last a lifetime.