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Showing posts from February, 2013

Wade into feelings

There's an old beautiful spiritual, Wade in the Water which referred to liberation from enslavement; while many assumed it was a reference to the exodus from Egypt, it was moreover an instruction to fugitive slaves to leave dry land which, while easy to run on, lead one to be quickly captured. Instead, the fugitive was instructed to head into the water as a means of escape. 
The spiritual is not an instruction to bide one's time in hopes of passive salvation or divine intervention, it's an encouragement to move towards freedom by giving up what's familiar and pushing onto the difficult path of freedom.
Wading can also serve as an analogy for working with emotions, feelings and moods: Rather than staying up in our heads, where the thoughts created by our moods can so easily entrap us, we seek release by lowering our awareness into the body, 'wading' into often turbulent physical expression of our emotions. How does it work?
"Witness:" what is occurring…

Happiness does not mean smooth passage

Many of us are born into, and grow up in, environments that provide insecure support at best. While rewarded for behaviors that meet arbitrary social standards, we are ignored or punished for the times our authentic self-expression doesn't 'fit in' with normative expectations. For example, boys are rewarded for acting 'like boys,' and 'girls like girls,' but transgressing gender expectations often leads to shaming, exclusion and worse. 
And so we develop performative behaviors to attain support and acceptance from an ungenerous, withholding world: we do as others do to receive acceptance. We drive ourselves to fit in with relentless self-criticism and perfectionism.  Such techniques transform the mind into place where thoughts of grandiosity and punishment are the rewards for normal successes and mistakes.
Unfortunately, many have to hit bottom, reaching periods of despair, addiction, panic, insomnia and other unwholesome states, before seeking another way…

turning towards life

The self-related ideas and images we replay in our minds tend to derive from the challenging experiences of life: times we were vulnerable, abandoned, rejected. Rather than opening to the inevitable fear, we sought the false shelter of our thoughts; they provided us with what seemed to be a safe refuge from our felt lack of control during perilous and scary circumstances. 
If we grow dependent on daydreams, then we begin to identify with the roles we play in them: this fantasy is who I really am; not the person responsible for all those actions out there in the world. The stories can become sticky and difficult to detach from at this stage.
For awhile imagination, revenge fantasies and rewritten memories can provide the illusion of power and immunity to discomfort. Meanwhile taking time to check in with the body is largely abandoned, and difficult interpersonal relationships are shunned.
Then, of course the results of avoidance strategies start to poke sharp holes through our head tr…