Chapter Fifteen - "Help Me --- I'm Tired Of Feeling Bad"
The Problem Of Experiential Intensity
I have said many times that in order to drill our way through the defences of the deeper mind, our awareness must have the intensifying power of pain. You will remember the six ways that the brain alerts us to its distress. They are:
1) Specific Body Sensations or Symptoms
2) Diffuse Inner Body States
3) Specific Feelings
4) Thoughts, Image Sequences, such as dreams
5) Unusual Behaviour
6) Psychosomatic Illnesses. Only the first three give us a direct experience of painful sensations, although psychosomatic illnesses could be included. Therefore it will be up to us, no matter how our attention is triggered, to find the specific body sensations, diffuse inner body states or specific feelings which accompany all other communications from the brain. It is the intensity of these feelings within all distress communications which will take us finally home to the deepest self. It is for this reason that, over and over again, we will shift our awareness and our focus toward those aspects of our experience which we can actually and literally feel. These feelings will be the river upon which we must navigate if we are to find the origin of the distress within us.
We do not immerse ourselves in pain because we enjoy it. We immerse ourselves in pain because it unfailingly takes us to the centre of things. As hard as this may seem, it is one very favourable aspect to the experiencing of emotional pain. Pain which is associated with inner work has a constructive feeling about it. This is a very central point. This constructive feeling gives us the ongoing positive feedback which supports and sustains us in our darkest times.
For example, when we finally experience the hot and painful grief of our mourning for a lost loved one, we know at the very same time we are hurting that we are healing ourselves. Whenever we finally admit into consciousness something terrible that has lain buried within us, at the same time we experience the agony, there comes to us a deep and abiding sense of relief. When pain connects to its original source the agony can be immense but, at the very same moment or shortly thereafter, we sense an enormous rightness in the event. We know that at last we are on the road to health and, dimly though it may be perceived, sunlight begins to break over the darkened landscape of our life. Pain becomes our friend. It is like the noise of a rusty hinge as we open a long-unused door to find a treasure which will illuminate our existence. Feeling pain for pain's sake (pain that remains unconnected to its source) is, of course, useless and masochistic.
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