Chapter Twenty-Four - "Help Me --- I'm Tired Of Feeling Bad"

Chapter Twenty-Four

Purities Of Intent and Therapeutic Work


The First Purity of Therapeutic Work

This purity of therapeutic work has to do with how we open ourselves to feelings. When feeling stirs within us, we must become exceedingly quiet and exceedingly open. If we are extremely careful, this inner stillness, with its gentle focus upon the intangible, will allow the feeling within us to blossom more fully, and display a greater and greater texture. It is this enrichment of experiencing which lifts us toward HOLISTIC INSIGHT. An example would be a photographer who waits in the forest for the appearance of an animal. He moves into position with great care, sits with an attitude of energetic quietness, and slowly realizes that what was a dappled shadow is gradually changing to reveal the presence of something wild. He is actively still, doing nothing to stop the emerging process. The photograph is taken (the feeling experienced) and the animal leaves.

The Second Purity of Therapeutic Work

This has to do with the exquisite care with which we do our inner work. The most crucial part of this inner work has to do with the arranging of our congruences.

That is to say, we must engage the conscious muscles of our body very, very carefully in order to become, on the outside, an exact replica of what we are on the inside.

The voluntary muscles, of course, include our vocal chords as well as the large muscles of the physical body.

We set about the making of sounds, the creating of body position, and, perhaps, body motion.

Let us begin with the creation of sounds:

Remember that inner discomfort, whether it be a feeling, a body sensation or a more complex body state, has location intensity and quality. For the moment, however, it is the intensity and quality of the inner experience with which we are concerned. Purity of therapeutic work dictates that the sound we make match precisely the intensity and quality of what we feel. A powerful pain requires a powerful sound. A powerful feeling requires a powerful sound. A ragged pain requires a ragged sound. A ragged feeling requires a ragged sound, and so on. Thus, as we have opened ourselves to the expansion of the inner experience, and have activated our vocal chords to match and follow (track) the shifts that occur, we sculpt ourselves on the outside to exactly match what we are on the inside. Our purity of therapeutic work brings the match of the inner and outer being into exactness. This is the inner work which will bring us closest to Holistic Insight. This is the meticulous work which is under our conscious control and which we can do.

When words come to us from this inner set of sensations, again we activate our vocal chords to find the exact words which match the inner feelings. The words and phrases must be simple, just as the inner feelings are simple. We must not move away from any given word or phrase until we have exhausted the energy which arises within it during the congruence. Moving quickly from word to word or from phrase to phrase is similar to moving a drill point from place to place on a piece of wood before it has a chance to bite into the surface. No matter how often I explain to patients that it is often necessary to stay with any given word or phrase for several minutes, and sometimes up to half an hour, they never seem to understand. For instance, the repetition of the word 'hurt' might occur fifty to a hundred times in one of my personal sequences before the bubble of feeling has fully enlarged and can grow no bigger.

Imagine an actor saying a simple word with all the depth and power of her skill during a moment of extraordinary intensity. To maintain your purity of therapeutic work, you must achieve similar results. Take care during your work that you do not lose contact with the underlying feeling and fall in love with what you are creating, or you will unground yourself from the inner sensations which are supplying you with your energy and direction.

When you activate voluntary body muscles to further become on the outside what you are on the inside, once again exactness is important. If you feel that something within you is twisted, then twist your physical body to match it. Open yourself to the new set of sensations which your twisted body will begin reporting to you. Purity of therapeutic work dictates that your external position feel exactly right. Often in my own work I have lain with my head thrown back, my upper body twisted to the left, right arm thrown backward behind me, palm out, while my left arm hung loosely by my side. This bizarre body position sent hot pain racing up and down the muscles which attached my right shoulder blade to my spine (the rhomboids) and I found myself in this position hundreds and hundreds of times making the gargling sounds of a baby. It was necessary for me to give myself completely to the weirdness of the experience for many, many months without having the slightest idea of why I was doing what I was doing. (This is highly reminiscent of the example given early in the book of the man who had to make faces.) In the end, it proved to have a connection with my birth.

The same purity of therapeutic work and the same principles hold true when we are making active body motions. That is to say, if our inner feelings and sensations are more correctly externalized by moving, as opposed to holding a still position, then move we must.

Remember, the one serious drawback related to body motion in the creation of a congruence is that body motion quietens the brain. Body motion floods the central nervous system with impulses from muscles and joints. These are warm self-reassuring sensations.

An example of this is the rocking motion which a traumatized child or adult may make in order to process extraordinary emotional pain.

The Third Purity of Therapeutic Work

To repeat once again, it is very important to know whether you are intensifying or quieting your emotional pain. There are certainly times when you may need to quieten yourself. At least be aware which of the two paths you are on, so that you will not be surprised by the results.

Remember when a therapist offers touch and holding, the same issue arises. There is touch which comforts and there is holding which comforts. There is touch which intensifies and there is holding which intensifies, or allows intensification, through providing physical support which enhances emotional support during periods of extreme distress. It is up to you as a client to provide feedback for your therapist as to what touch and holding are offering you in any given moment and what it is you need.

The Fourth Purity of Therapeutic Work

This Purity of Therapeutic Work requires that you trust your feelings and trust your congruences without knowing what it is that you are doing or why you are doing it. This letting-go of intellectual knowledge, trusting that the feeling comes first, and the understanding comes second, is crucial to forward movement in therapy. It is a way of saying 'yes' to the deeper brain. Without this 'yes' the unconscious will not open its doors to HOLISTIC INSIGHT.

The Fifth Purity of Therapeutic Work

Some of the major danger in this manual comes to exist right here. Keep your pain on the mat. It is absolutely not acceptable to take the unfinished psychological material which lies inside you and dump it into the world, hurting others. First, it is extraordinarily dishonest to use another human being this way. Second, it diffuses the therapy journey by draining off the therapy-driving pain into the PLEASURE OF HURTFUL DELIGHTS and brings us to the second law of regressive therapy.

The Second Law of Regressive Therapy:

If you do not keep your pain on the mat and feel it fully,
you will use it to hurt yourself or others in the world.

Pain is the laboratory within which we work. It is there to be felt. We orient ourselves toward it in order to examine it. We create our congruences in order to feel it, merge with it, and externalize it. We do this in the therapy room, never aiming it at others.

Pain must never be suddenly used during therapy as a motivator, pushing us into the world. We must suffer the paradox of feeling it and connecting with it, while at the same time recognizing that we are in a feeling and must not act on it. We are involved in connecting deeply with our inner processes, while at the very same time disconnecting what we actually do in the world from those very processes. This is the essence of the FIFTH PURITY OF THERAPUTIC WORK: to feel deeply, and not to act. Integrated action will come in its own time and in its own way and when it does, this integrated action will gradually and organically shift our way of being in the world.

As the monk wrestles with his spirituality inside the monastery, we wrestle with our feelings inside our private therapy place.

When we leave this place of deep, regressive experience, we would do well to cultivate an attitude of observation and respectful courtesy toward others until enough time and therapy take place to mature and integrate what will finally become a more organic, self-defining, compassionate and loving life.

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