Chapter Twenty-Two - "Help Me --- I'm Tired Of Feeling Bad"
Specific Counter-Devices to Dissolve ACTIVATING THE IMMACULATE FUNCTIONS OF THE MIND
the Brain's Defensive Trickery
1. The Device of 'Staying With' 2. Magic Time Carpet 3. Time Pebbles 4. Holistic Insight
COUNTER-DEVICES TO DISSOLVE THE BRAIN'S DEFENSIVE TRICKERY:
1. The Device of 'Staying With'
We saw early in the first part of this book that lying inside a feeling until it becomes intense enough, and until sufficient time has passed, will cause a major reorientation in the working of the conscious-unconscious axis. When we actively turn away from cerebral intellectual function (normal daytime thought) and give ourselves over to the sensory experience of remaining attentive to feelings and body sensations, the brain reorients itself toward deeper repressed material. The sensing we involve ourselves in acts like a magnet and draws the past powerfully and experientially into our awareness. This STAYING WITH phenomenon is the central and crucial mechanism in all feeling-oriented regressive psychotherapy. This device is our constant companion, which underpins and creates the experiences of deep therapy. STAYING WITH, and only STAYING WITH, places us continuously within the CENTRAL PARADOX OF THERAPY and thus allows us to actually re-experience the hurt which is our only route to freedom.
The therapist exerts a continuous, gentle pressure against the patient's flow of normal daytime conversation. This ongoing work never ceases until the patient comes to deeply, firmly and consciously recognize that normal conversation is a defence. This defence must be either utilized to find the feelings within which we will do our therapeutic work, or it must be fractured altogether. (Please reread the section in Part One which deals with the DEVICES OF INARTICULATE AND ARTICULATE SOUNDS).
- My husband's brother is always barging into our home. I have asked my husband to talk to him about it but he just won't. I know that they are very close but...
- Put yourself in the front hallway of your home. Image yourself looking up to see your husband's brother coming through the door. Fix the moment in your mind. Hold the scene and allow yourself to feel what you feel when this happens.
- Well I know that he has every right to be there and...
- Don't tell me a story. Don't rationalize the situation. Put yourself in the hall and feel the feeling.
- I don't have any feeling...
- Recreate your image of the hallway and the brother coming in. Enter the scene. Look at him and wait until some kind of feeling emerges...
- I guess I'm feeling irritated.
- Don't guess. Guessing has one foot in your thinking processes and the other in the denial of your feelings. Put yourself back in the hallway. See the brother and wait until you know what you feel.
- I feel angry.
- Let the anger come to you and stay inside it. See where it is in your body. Feel your way into its intensity and texture.
- Get the fuck out of my house.
- Repeat that phrase five to ten times.
- Get the fuck out of my house...Get the fuck out of my house... GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE... (et cetera).
- It's my brother, he used to barge into my room to try and get a look at me while I was dressing.
- Take a moment to remember what that felt like, and then say to your brother whatever simple phrase comes to mind.
- (patient very angry) Get the fuck out of my room....
- Say this phrase over and over again until you are finished with it.
The patient screams the phrase several times, more and more loudly. She finally lies back, exhausted.
- Now put yourself back in the present situation with your husband's brother in that hallway. What do you feel?
- I'm not so angry as I think about it now.
- What would you like to say to him?
- Please, Michael, ring the doorbell before you come into the house just in case I'm not fully dressed.
- How does it feel to say that to him?
- I feel quite comfortable.
- The rage has gone?
This last example demonstrates that, when the therapist does not allow the patient to intellectualize, but rather exerts continuous gentle pressure toward feeling and sensing the experience (awareness moves swiftly along the feeling line of congruence between the present feeling and the childhood feeling thus instantly opening our experiencing onto another stage in the past).
We are about to study more specifically the mechanism within the brain which allows this sudden shift through time, along the lines of congruence, which comes to exist between a present feeling and its similar partner feeling in the past.
COUNTER-DEVICES TO DISSOLVE THE BRAIN'S DEFENSIVE TRICKERY:
2. Magic Time Carpet (Temporal Contextual Shift): An Immaculate Function of the Brain
There comes a moment in all depth therapy when, having applied our tracking, our STAYING WITH, and our congruence techniques, we achieve an outstanding reward: We suddenly and unexpectedly find ourselves thrown back in time to comprehend and/or re-live an early formative experience. This shift is instantaneous. The re-living is often extraordinarily real and the comprehension which flows from it is global. Our consciousness shifts profoundly in a single, vivid, life-enhancing moment. Deep emotional and physical relief always follow.
This sudden shift in time and context between two events which share the same feeling or body sensation, we can refer to as Temporal Contextual Shift or, more simply, MAGIC TIME CARPET. This magical, instantaneous process always works best if it is self-activating. That is to say, when we have found a feeling or a discomfort, have entered it, have allowed it to intensify, enrich and peak, we will occasionally find ourselves in the deep past and what was a small, inert piece of information suddenly comes alive to our experience.
It is always tempting, when patients get stuck in a feeling and the feeling does not take them anywhere, for the therapist to try to gain control over the MAGIC TIME CARPET. Occasionally in therapy this can be helpful, by reinforcing the intention of the therapeutic process. But, when the therapist actively tries to arrange a TEMPORAL CONTEXTUAL SHIFT, the price is always high. Under circumstances of therapist arrangement, the unearthed memory or connection is always diluted. The intensity, and hence the growth potential, is leached out of the experience in direct proportion to the amount of guiding and connecting that the therapist does.
- I was so angry with my mother today when she criticized the cake I had baked. - Let yourself remember your early relationship with your mother and see if today's feeling of anger is similar to feelings you have had with her before. - Yes. I remember I used to feel this way whenever she criticized me.
In this example, the therapist has actively created a non-experiential, TEMPORAL CONTEXTUAL SHIFT and the result is that the potential power and growth of the experience has been extracted from it.
Let us try this example again:
- I was so angry with my mother today when she criticized the cake I had baked. - Please stay with that feeling of anger. - I hate her. - Please repeat this phrase several times and stay in the feeling. - I hate her. I HATE HER.... She used to do the same damn thing to me through my whole childhood. - Stay in the feeling. What do you want to say to her from this childhood space? - Leave me alone. (crying) Just leave me alone.
Here, the therapist maintains the pressure but forgoes the pleasure of arranging the connection. Whenever we, as therapists, try to gain conscious control over our patients' processes, we diffuse the power of our patients' journey. Therapists who do a lot of talking and explaining will always take your journey and your growth away from you.
Therapists who push too hard, emotionally or physically, can also take your journey away from you. They can create newer and deeper defences. You may end up making lots of noise and physical rumpus, but you may not get a true depth experience of insight and relief. When a therapist asks you to do something in depth therapy before you are opening to it, the core of the brain defends automatically while the false external self complies with the therapist's requests.
Forced manoeuvres in therapy can end by giving you water instead of soup.
Good therapeutic experiences have the quality of a lightning-strike. Our job is to stand patients in the centre of the emotional storm. It is the job of the patients' own minds to unleash the lightning-strike of a full Holistic Insight.
- I felt so sad when I saw my friend off for Europe last week. I couldn't believe how deeply I felt. You would have thought she was dying or something. But she is only going away for the summer.
- The grief seemed too large?
- I was actually sobbing when I said goodbye.
- Put yourself at the airport, find the feeling if you can, enter it and stay in it. What simple phrase or word or sound wants to come up and out of your mouth?
- I don't want you to go.
- Please say this, matching the phrase to the feeling with great care and keep repeating it.
- I don't want you to go... I don't want you to go... I don't want you to go... (patient's voice becomes high and childlike.)
- Stay with it.
- I don't want you to go... I don't want you to go... I don't want you to go... (patient begins to sob) .... Please don't go mommy, please don't go. (Long pause) My mommy's ill. She's going away to the `samitorium'.
- The `samitorium'?
- She's got `T.D.' I'm not going to see her for a long, long time.
Let me repeat yet again one of the most central instructions in this book: The maintenance of a feeling with sufficient intensity and for a sufficient length of time, is crucial to the activation of the MAGIC TIME CARPET, and its resultant HOLISTIC RE-LIVING. This is why a feeling-oriented therapy has the power that no other therapy can match.
One extremely important point must now be made. Where there has been extreme trauma, TIME CARPET may deposit patients into a past experience and return them to the present without any memory of ever having taken such a journey. I had been practicing regressive therapy for years before I fully realized this.
It is crucial for therapists to make sure that patients have returned to the present with their memory intact. (Please reread in Part One, Chapter 5 Example Five, Body Necessity Driving a Patient Toward Congruence.)
COUNTER-DEVICES TO DISSOLVE THE BRAIN'S DEFENSIVE TRICKERY:
3. Time Pebbles (or Reverse Temporal Contextual Shift)
The MAGIC TIME CARPET has a very important reverse function. Not only does it transport us backward in time, it can bring the past forward into the present. These extremely helpful gifts from the past also act as one of the mind's greatest disguises. When the TIME CARPET brings us a gift from the past, it changes its context and thus conceals itself. These are the childhood phrases and feelings which we have already said lie scattered on the beach of adult conversation. These TIME PEBBLES enter the therapy room with great power, disguised as present processes. If we read them in the present context and don't realize they come from the past, they can throw us completely off track. Once we realize they represent a past feeling fastened onto a present process, we have a major key to the unconscious. TIME PEBBLES (Reverse Temporal Contextual Shift) enter the present therapy process in the form of key phrases which have a high feeling content and a simplicity which feels childlike.
For example, a woman is speaking of a summer holiday in her past. The effort of re-experiencing this past event is encountering great resistance. Her conversation goes something like this:
- Whenever I think of our family cottage, I get a funny feeling.
- Are you having any of that feeling right now?
- Yes, I am.
- Let that feeling come to you and grow in strength. It sometimes helps to actually visualize the place.
There is a pause as the patient allows the feeling to develop and enrich. She prepares to merge with it. Then she says:
- I can't do this.
Here is our TIME PEBBLE. If we do not intuit this, therapist and patient will both think that, when the patient says 'I can't do this,' she simply means that the prescribed therapy exercise is too hard.
Wrong. This is where the CONTEXTUAL SHIFT takes place. It feels as though the context is a resistance in the present. Watch what happens if we treat this phrase simply as a feeling, and do not pin it into a present context. We will notice a CONTEXTUAL TIME SHIFT which will take us back into the patient's childhood. Let us return to the previous dialogue:
- Visualize your cottage and let the feeling come to you.
(A pause, while the patient allows the feeling to develop, and then prepares to merge with it.)
- I can't do this.
- Please let yourself feel the phrase `I can't do this' and repeat it five to ten times. - Why do you want to make me go on when I have just told you I can't do this exercise? - Repeat the phrase ten times.
- I can't do this. I can't do this. I can't do this. (her body shifts position) I can't do this. I can't do this. (her eyes widen) I can't do this. (her breathing accelerates) I can't do this. I can't do this. (her voice grows childlike... she pauses and looks at me.) - Don't look at me. Stay with the phrase and whatever else comes to you. - I can't do this. I can't do this. Oh God, don't make me. (she starts to cry).
The MAGIC TIME CARPET has put her back at the cottage at the age of eight and, as you have guessed, she experiences an incest event.
The words 'I can't do this' were a TIME PEBBLE, pushed forward into the present by the unconscious, alerting us and at the same time throwing us off the track.
Here again we see the brain responding to its old dilemma of both wanting and not wanting to know the origins of its pain. As usual, under these circumstances it struggles to give us a hint while at the same time hiding the very hint that it gives.
The patient's resistance to re-experiencing this unpleasant event with her uncle had sufficient congruence with her resistance to her therapy work, that the phrase 'I can't do this' detached itself from the original experience and slid forward in time. Thus it changed in context, and showed up in the present as a TIME PEBBLE. This REVERSE TEMPORAL CONTEXTUAL SHIFT, where a past meaning seems to fit a present context, is one of the most subtle defences in the mind's desperate attempt to prevent the re-experiencing of a past event.
Watch what happens in therapy if we don't recognize the TIME PEBBLE when it emerges into the present:
--I can't do this. (Time Pebble) --Let yourself go a little. (misunderstanding of context) --I just can't do this. (Time Pebble) --Is it hard for you to trust me? (therapist misunderstands again) --I just can't trust anyone. (contamination of therapeutic flow as patient responds to misunderstood context) --You don't have to worry, you're safe here. (misunderstood context maintained by therapist again) --I know I'm safe here. (patient lying due to incest betrayal)
--Well, perhaps we should pick another topic today. (patient and therapist completely derailed from the hint of an earlier meaning contained in original phrase, 'I can't do this.')
Unconscious defences have won the battle to hide past pain.
It is important to note that the statement 'I can't do this' is a feeling-oriented statement. If we treat resistances as feelings, we will begin to realize, without knowing it beforehand, that many of these kinds of statements are the time and contextually shifted early feelings which I am calling TIME PEBBLES. Trust the feeling within the resistance, go with it, don't let it scamper away and often you will discover that TIME PEBBLES have come to you and can then activate the MAGIC TIME CARPET contextual shift, pushing you into the deep past.
A man talks about his boss: --He hates me. (Time Pebble) --Do you think you might be projecting something onto him? (therapist's intellectual delight) --No, he hates me. (Time Pebble)
--Do you have any real evidence of that? (misunderstood time context: therapy derailed) In addition to misunderstanding that 'he hates me' is a time-displaced phrase, this therapist is continually jarring his patient away from feeling. Instead, he is lifting him upward into a Level One intellectual dead-end. MAGIC TIME CARPET can be activated by finding the feeling which lies inside the statement 'he hates me.' This feeling, which is congruent between past and present, will join the past and present phrase together and a suddden, TEMPORAL CONTEXTUAL SHIFT will occur, leading to a HOLISTIC INSIGHT. Let us briefly observe an entirely different flow in the patient's therapy when the phrase 'he hates me' is seen to be a TIME PEBBLE, a comment which is revelant in the past as well as the present:
--He hates me. (Time Pebble) --Stay inside that feeling and (potential Time Pebble sought) let it grow as you keep repeating the phrase. --He hates me. He hates me. (Magic Time Carpet activated. He hates me... It's my brother. Contextual Shift to deep past achieved.) He never stopped picking on me.
Whenever a simple phrase which a child might use emerges into adult conversation (especially when accompanied by a feeling which is too strong for the current situation) you may be looking at a time-displaced phrase. Merge with it, repeat it, and get ready to travel back to its origin.
COUNTER-DEVICES TO DISSOLVE THE BRAIN'S DEFENSIVE TRICKERY:
4. Holistic Insight (an Immaculate Function of the Brain)
HOLISTIC INSIGHT has gradations of quality and extensiveness, which can be seen to exist in six stages:
Holistic Insight: Stage One Holistic Insight, Stage One, begins with the experience of inwardness which comes to us when we lie down to focus on the inner arena of our life. We begin to sense the ground of our being, the place where we will study and merge with the previously warded-off parts of our deepest self. Just as putting our hand in water gives us a direct sense of what water is, so, now, we start to gain a non-verbal, non-intellectual awareness of our inner environment. This is the beginning of the long, sweet relief of giving a harassed surface self over to a study of our deeper processes. This relief is increased as we allow our conscious self to fully feel the six ways in which our brain broadcasts its pain to us (specific body sensations, et cetera). The relief is even further enhanced as we make our congruent expressions to fully merge with these deeper experiences. It is here where Holistic Insight truly begins, when we feel the deeper self and the surface self coming into alignment for the first time. Now the sweep of honesty begins to neutralize the displaced and disguised fruitless struggles of our life. Stage One, Holistic Insight is, then, the direct non-linear, non-symbolized experience of an inwardness, and a re-alignment between the unconscious and conscious parts of our being, through the use of the techniques of congruence and externalization. At this level, no specific insight is required; no words, no images and no re-experiencings are necessary. There is, nonetheless, a deep and growing sense that something within us is easing and becoming whole. Because all these Stage One processes have been without specific insight, and yet deepen our non-specific awarenesss, we can refer to them as TEXTURAL SELF-ENHANCEMENT.
Holistic Insight: Stage Two Holistic Insight, Stage Two, is marked by the emergence into consciousness of a specific issue, and some of the meaning attached to it. We have focused inwardly on some discomfort. We are allowing it to fill our awareness. We are merging with it and we may or may not have started to make our congruences. Suddenly we realize something new about ourselves. We become completely aware of a truth concerning our existence. For example, an argument with someone leaves us feeling very discomforted, with a tightness in our chest. We lie down, focus on the tightness, merge with it, and suddenly find ourselves saying , 'Please don't hurt me.' We repeat this congruence five to ten times, matching the words against the feeling. Suddenly we have the insight that we have been overwhelmingly hurt hurt far more deeply than we realized. We have a sense that, in some way, our whole mind-and-body axis has been rocked on its foundation. This is a realization which has definite form and insight. It is limited, however, to the present and to the circumscribed event. This is the hallmark of a HOLISTIC INSIGHT, Stage Two. It is non-linear, and comes suddenly in a small wave-front of awareness. It is this instantaneous, gut-level, non-verbal, non-linear knowing which classifies it as a Holistic Experience.
It is holistic because our sense of knowing, and being, instantly expands with the experience itself. It is felt within the mind as clarity, and within the body as relaxation. The enhanced knowing, and the physical relief, are simultaneous and immediate. We have the intriguing deeper sense that, because of what we have just realized, we are suddenly more than we were. The quality of our knowledge expands in many directions. For instance, we realize that we do hurt, and that we are hurtable. There is a shift from a false sense of strength to a sense that we are always vulnerable. And yet, because of our new-found skill, we sense that we are also reparable. We do not have to be rigid and self-protecting. We can live more openly without being destroyed. This is an example of the kind of awareness-expansion which accompanies a typical HOLISTIC INSIGHT.
HOLISTIC INSIGHT, Stage Two, is, then, a sudden, non-linear expansion of present awareness, confined to a single issue, and the insight is internal to the life of the one who experiences it. It is experienced mentally as insight, and physically as relaxation.
Holistic Insight: Stage Three The third stage of HOLISTIC INSIGHT is a sudden, non-linear awareness which expands laterally in the present to include self and world. For example, a feeling sequence on the mat, after an argument with a boss, can yield the realization not only that we have been deeply hurt (Holistic Insight, Stage Two) but also that the boss is a deeply damaged and therefore hurtful man. We see how his damage permeates the world around him, triggering everybody's pain. We become aware that many people in authority are like this, and we sense things that are intrinsic to negative authority, how it comes about, and how it harms us all.
The third stage of Holistic Insight, then, suddenly enhances our comprehension, not only about matters internal to ourselves, but the insight spreads outward to encompass the world around us, and its dynamics. The awareness confines itself to the present.
Holistic Insight: Stage Four At this level, realization spans out not only laterally but backward in time. We suddenly see flashes of our existence down through the years as they pertain to our current discomfort. We realize that old pain within us has been activated. Once again, this is a sudden wall of comprehension which bursts in upon us. We are not, however, actually re-living a past event, although we do feel eased, in body and in mind, at the moment of perception .
Holistic Insight: Stage Five
At this level the MAGIC TIME CARPET (Temporal Contextual Shift) is activated. We are in a childhood experience, present awareness fades and we re-live the experience with the completeness and intensity of an actual hallucination. Corridors of connectedness open within our minds, leading from the past event to multiple significant experiences down through our lives. We are suddenly illuminated as to the multiple causes of our existence with regard to important events through time.
The sensation is strange and wondrous as barriers within the mind collapse. The experience seems to take one to three seconds. The aftermath is a most profound knowing on the plane of psychobiology which leaves the body deeply relaxed and changed forever, especially in the structure of its defences. The mind comes to trust openness and vulnerability as part of deep organic function. Self-forgivness and forgivness of others is generated from within a disentangled organic core. A non-judgmental, profoundly ethical stance begins to replace a lifetime of external teachings, and guilt. The brain begins to stand alone with no man and no institution as either its master or generator of forgivness. A sense of the profound complexity and preciousness of life automatically brings compassion and morality.
Stage Five Holistic Insight is the last stage of Holistic Awareness before the great experience of Sudden Illumination or Satori itself, which is the goal of Zen. Stage Five Holistic Insight shares many of the characteristics and qualities of Satori. It is sudden, it is profound, it brings enormous comprehension, it yields exquisite relief to body and mind. It is not, however, actual Satori. It is limited to the plane of psychobiology and confines itself to connections and processes of a wordly nature. That is to say, it is not metaphysical.
Holistic Insight: Stage Six ( Sudden Illumination, or 'Satori')
Because I believe that the mechanisms involved in Psycho-biological Holistic Insight and those in actual Zen-oriented Satori share similar processes, I will include a few brief comments about this ultimate experience.
Satori itself, as I have studied it and experienced it, is a sudden and profound awakening of an altogether different kind of consciousness. Psychobiological awakening (Holistic Insight) concerns itself with the fracturing of discrete compartments within internal experience. It is obtained by careful and minute attention to inner body states and the creation of the congruences that we have already described. These are mechanisms of mind and body (inquiry within the psychobiological plane) and therefore work in this area issues forth in awareness at this level.
Satori itself is an attempt to fracture the compartmentalization of the mind in a much more profound way. It is an attempt to fracture the absolute ground of symbolization as it pertains to the mind's view of all things. The stage of inquiry is vaster, in fact it is infinite, encompassing the structure of mind, the structure of matter, and the relationship between the two. It also includes the Prime Movement of the universe.
Our perception of all things is now challenged as Satori itself disassembles, in one blinding flash, all symbolic barriers between comprehension and matter itself. It is for this reason that the Zen Koan, or mind puzzle, is so profoundly enigmatic. The solving of a Zen puzzle (for example, What is the sound of one hand clapping?) brings the actual symbolizing functions of the brain crashing down around us until we and the universe are one. A Zen monk requires years, sometimes decades, of concentrated meditation to achieve final dissolution of such intrinsic brain function. It is extraordinarily interesting to note that the cultivation of what we shall call Purity of Intent in approaching Holistic Insight is very similar to the cultivation of Purity of Intent in the approach to Satori itself. Both require the same paradoxical process of intensity versus letting go, extraordinary humility, patience, lack of expectation and extreme focus. The driving force at the psychobiological level is pain. The method is the forging of a link, between present experience and past experience, through the use of congruent feelings. The ultra high level of congruence between a present feeling and a past feeling activates the psychobiologically immaculate process of non-linear Holistic Insight. Holistic Insight is the sudden overwhelming expansion of consciousness within the psychobiological field of enquiry.
The driving force toward the Satori level experience is profound existential dissatisfaction coupled with extraordinarily intense meditational techniques extending over time and employing puzzles which have no solution at the level of the mind's symbolizing processes.
Both processes share a sudden profound expansion of consciousness. Holistic Insight is still confined, however, within its psychological and biological field of examination. Satori shatters all confinement of awareness. It would seem to be the most profound and complete achievement of awareness possible for our biochemically-based consciousness.
We will expand considerably on the attitude necessary for the cultivation of growth in the next chapter.
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