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Date: Saturday, 05 Oct 2013 19:15

Shame is something that permeates our culture. Advertising preys on shame of one’s body. Dr. Gabor Mate, who works with the heavily addicted, says shame is the “one constant among addicts of all types“. It fuels much avoidant behavior such as procrastination and can be the prime impetus behind relationship breakups and lack of intimacy.

This year I have been looking into my own shame and doing my best to directly experience it. By that I don’t mean jump into “healing”, which is often the attempt to get rid of it. (Years ago, when I wrote and said thousands of daily affirmations of my own worth and inner beauty, I ended up feeling worse about myself) To me, that kind of healing leads to feeling ashamed of one’s own shame, which is unfortunately pervasive in so many therapeutic relations given the prevalence of pop psychology and the “quick fix”. But what is shame? Joseph Burgo defines same as the sense of internal damage. I define shame as the following:

Shame is the feeling or body memory that you cannot be connected with others, or yourself, so long as a part of you is present. It’s the sense of a split within one’s self, the feeling that a part of you shouldn’t be there.

Say you grew up, as I did, in an emotionally repressed family where there was a heavy reaction to an expression of anger or a “go away” message. If I rejected my mother, either by saying I didn’t like something she did to me or that I didn’t want to talk now, she would react by pushing me away violently, even implying the relationship might end. Even showing this emotion on my face without vocalizing it provoked a reaction. This was her own hurt, but of course as a young child I didn’t know this – I internalized it. It became part of my body and brain. There are times I find it hard to even feel that energy; it ended up being blocked from my consciousness, with sometimes severe internal reactions and symptoms as a result. Connection with my family was more important than self-connection, and this created pathways in the brain short-circuiting that energy. Though I’ve done much work with myself, I still feel shame regarding this; my body believes people will cut me out of their lives if I let it be visible.

This can happen in work too: a friend of mine was talking about procrastination in learning a new skill for a client. There was a deadline for getting a project done and she needed to become adept in a new software utility that she hadn’t used before. For years she had been used to being highly skilled in what she did; the sense of not being an expert already was very uncomfortable to her, and it was incredibly easy to avoid that discomfort by procrastinating. Even when she devoted time to acquire the new skills, the learning was slower than when she had been a student. Upon talking about it, she agreed that at the basis of this behavior was the sense that she needed to be an expert to have the connection with the client. Not knowing everything, being less than perfect, was not acceptable – the client might drop her. The connection wouldn’t be there. There was no quick ability to not feel this, so the easiest thing to do in the moment was to focus attention anywhere else, rather than wade through the emotional quagmire of shame.

Sexual attraction is another magnet for shame. It’s something that easily cross-reacts with inadequacies of beauty or worth. I still have feelings that my partner may cut off from me and end the relationship if I fully admit, beyond an intellectual confession, that I feel a serious attraction to someone. So in the past, rather than admit it fully, I have intellectualized it or numbed that part of me, which led to distance and lack of trust. Another option for me that many do (and I’m glad I haven’t) would be to act it out – rather than admitting or feeling the shame, I could try to act on the attraction and start something while not showing it to my partner, thus trying in an unconscious and unhealthy way to not numb a part of myself while still remaining connected to her. It’s the shadow side of trying to resolve shame. If anything happened, I would likely feel more disconnected from her because I would have to hide more and more parts of my life. If I confessed it after time, the anger she would feel upon discovery, mostly based on the deceit, would be tied to the original shame and add to it. Thus shame grows.

The movie “Shame” made in 2011 with Michael Fassbender depicts the shame underlying sexual addiction amazingly well.

The dark side of the growth of psychology and this culture’s lack of time is that we want the quick fix. Feeling any shame that’s there doesn’t make it immediately better. In fact, culturally there’s incredibly discomfort around it. Rather than being with shame we ask loved ones to “see someone about it”, to find a solution by thinking positive thoughts, or make more rules so as not to bring it up. But since the source of shame is from feeling disconnected, what we deeply need is the experience of being connected while feeling shame and the original source.

What brings on this feeling of connection and working with shame? From my experience, we need to first truly feel the shame and whatever is bringing on the shame, without intellectualizing or compartmentalizing it. It has to be brought to the surface, in our bodies, face, voice and breath. This means going beyond any kind of sit-down therapy structure. Then, someone needs to be there and be open for a connection without any kind of attempt to resolve the source of the shame. There needs to be space for the emotion, thoughts or impulses with no action to change them, while truly being there and available. This is itself a form of meditation.

A couple months ago, while in a very emotional state (I won’t go into the trigger here), I called my girlfriend Kirsten for help. It was an agonizing decision for me, as I grew up feeling I should be the one supporting others, but at the time I truly felt lost and knew I couldn’t move anything alone. She dropped everything and came. As soon as she was next to me, I started bawling. I confessed how ashamed I was of asking for support, and then how ashamed I was of feeling shame, like I needed to do something to make it better so I could be a healthy person. She was simply present with me. I confessed I felt like there was always a price for support. Inside, I was feeling that I needed to please others in order to be worth getting any kind of love, and sex had been a major part of that with women, giving them pleasure when I didn’t necessarily feel into it. I told her I didn’t want sex now, and felt so much shame at admitting that, continuing my bawling. She simply listened. She backed away physically when I wanted it, and held me close when that felt good to me. She was absolutely wonderful at remaining connected without any price. I didn’t need to heal, say the right thing or make it worth her while to be there for me. She was a friend. She wasn’t even playing a role of “healer”, breathing the right way or watching what she said. All she did was show that mattered to her – me, not the role I played in her life.

This was quite a pivotal shift for me. As it turns out, I didn’t want sex for close to a month afterwards while I processed the internal shifts. That in itself was very unusual for me. It made it easier for her that we are in an open relationship and she could, if she wanted, fulfill needs elsewhere – another dynamic which has helped me work with shame. But that, along with other experiences, brought the body knowledge that I could still be connected while revealing shame without having to play a role of strength, humor, health or comforting others. This has led to a huge foundation of trust and friendship. It’s amazing how many sexual relationships don’t have that.

I’ve also had dyads with a number of people. This is where you sit in a meditational manner facing each other, being present for 10 minutes or so before talking, connecting to one’s breath and body, and each person taking turns asking a simple question and listening. When it’s your turn, you speak slowly and with self-connection about your experience and insights while the other listens and is present in their own self. One of the questions asked was about the “sense of self in relationships”. That’s a prime question related to shame – when do you lose that sense of self-connection, where you’re not hiding or altering anything inside? When do you feel you’re walking on eggshells, controlling everything coming out because you feel it would harm the relationship? And it was wonderful just practicing revealing myself without guile, showing how “imperfect” I am and getting to a place that this is just fine. It doesn’t need to change.

It’s also led to a different place in being there for others. Largely arising from my narcissistic mother, I had been feeling that I needed to be playing a role when giving support to others. Internally I had the belief that had to suppress my own issues, not feel anything “unsupportive” like anger or resentment from my past (even if unrelated to them), in order to be helpful. This made me far from present and created a tense feeling; because I was not relaxed, I couldn’t help friends be relaxed. Not being in a state of allowing with my own emotions at the time, I could never truly convey that their emotions were just fine as they are. I was saying the “right things”, which probably made them feel like they had to say the “right things” in response. While I don’t have any scientific data, I think this is what the vast majority of therapeutic sit-down relationships are like this. So many healing achievers!

The lessening of shame has led me to more feelings of joy because by not disconnecting from myself, there’s more wholeness. I can joke around with it more, even bring some clownishness. What a feeling of freedom that is. And I’m just getting started.

 

 

 

Author: "admin" Tags: "dealing with life, emotions, love"
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Date: Sunday, 07 Jul 2013 00:45

Last night there was a public, free offering of Laughter Yoga as part of the Indian Summer festival in Vancouver. My friends had arrived and set up their blanket on the grass barely 10 feet away from the throng of new laugh-yoginis. The leader, a 30s women who could have been easily coaching a group of 8 year olds to act happy and behave, set the tone of merciless positivity. How much do we not laugh when we could? How much more fun could we have?

I felt my own negativity-guilt pull at me, saying “oh, maybe this will be healing!” or “you’ll be isolated if you don’t put on a happy, laughing face!”. But I stayed on the grass. I listened to the forced laughter, which was pleasant enough to listen to, but didn’t remind me of the lightness of joy. It more reminded me off the steam let off when someone lets out a tight lipped giggle in a tense room and the dominoes of giggles that fall in the blowing off of steam.

After about 15 minutes of watching and rolling my eyes increasingly, I decided to join in my own way, to laugh in response to what was going on. I laughed a crazy, maniacal comic book laugh, as if I was Doctor Dastardly about to tie up a maiden on a train track. I let it grow in a crescendo, giving a full embodiment of Dastardliness. Yes, I’ll get you yet, my pretty Laughter Yoga teacher! While a part of me expected to be singled out as the “party pooper”, I didn’t get noticed at all that way; in fact there were a fair number of people around me that were really laughing now in response to me.

I guess real laughter comes from truth. Yes, there’s the giggling that’s just releasing a bit of tension, but the great humor comes from honesty and reconciling seeming opposites. I suppose my maniacal laughter said things like “OH YEAH? How about THIS laughter?” – a fuck off to the leader speaking as if we were young children. It was a finger to any implication that there is a right way, a spiritual way to laugh, that we have to smile, that we have to have fun by obeying. That healing is about following, doing something in the right way instead of listening to my own voice. Maybe others were laughing from understanding that too.

Later on she asked people in that same pedantic voice to listen deep within and say a word or phrase that came from within. Those that spoke to her said such positive words as “joy”, “freedom”, “play”, and “openness”. From behind the crowd, I spoke my phrase of “fuck off”. But I said it with a smile on my face. I then had a wonderful discussion with a friend on the value of that phrase, how important it is to welcome that energy too. It also made people around me laugh honestly. What better way at times to say “I don’t want to be controlled by an ideology or by peer pressure to be positive – I want to march to my own drummer.” I certainly don’t want to disrupt others’ experiences, but that was truly my inner voice’s honest phrase. Speaking it loud enough to be heard was fun.

Over 10 years ago, I did a clown intensive for over 3 months, 15 hours a week. In every class we did a related exercise : we lied own on the floor and made emotive sounds and movements for half an hour. Words were forbidden, but we could laugh, cry, or anything in between. The teacher, David MacMurray Smith, called it the cycle of agony and ecstasy. It was a meditation on just allowing emotions, sounds, and movement to flow and change. Laughter would only last for a time, then it either calmed or moved into crying sounds, baby-like curious sounds, or even the odd tantrum. But with the freedom to fully allow each to bloom, nothing lasted, and more, each was genuine. And in a room full of other people, it was fun to be affected, to see where the group energy was going. When there wasn’t control over what we should experience, every emotion became fun. Sometimes the movement from crying to laughter and back again happened many times in a minute, because crying was fun too. It was a celebration of that part of humanness.

I love emotional expressiveness, I do. I suppose I also love the expressiveness of saying “fuck off” to unspoken rules of conformity and control. Anything that helps is going to help me to be natural, to let go of assumptions, and find the fun of being true to whatever’s there in the moment, while listening to the environment and bringing respect (of a sort) and compassion. I’ll gladly do the laughing/crying “yoga” any day, but the next time on a hot day I see someone teaching laughter yoga that way, I hope I have a Super Soaker to spray her with. Maybe that’ll help get some genuine laughter going.

Author: "admin" Tags: "love"
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Date: Thursday, 24 Jan 2013 22:50

Upon a recommendation by a friend I’ve been reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, the author of the “The Legend of Bagger Vance and numerous other titles. It’s subtitled “Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles”. The book is separated into three sections, the first being all about the enemy of creativity, Resistance, which I’ll be focusing on. The second part is about what a true Professional is and the last section is a look at Inspiration, the muse and the spirituality of the creative person. There is some good material there, but what really made me thinking (largely because I disagree) is the first section.

In the section of resistance, there’s an emphasis on “just do it” – resistance is the enemy. It’s a war. Resistance is insidious. Invisible. It’s fueled by fear. It recruits allies. It’s akin to a state of victimhood. It never sleeps. It leads to self-medication. Rationalization is resistance. Often looking for ‘healing’ is resistance.

There are some good points in there, but I have a fundamental disagreement with any attitude that places a part of ourselves as the enemy. The need to create enemies is seemingly a great part of our culture. It’s part of how we were raised. “Just get out there and succeed! Don’t be a loser! Keep pushing!” The part of us that wants to rest and regroup turns into an enemy. The part of us that feels anger and says no to what we “should” do turns into something negative, often labeled “resistance”.

What’s Wrong with Resistance, Anyway?

These attitudes are so common place that we don’t question them, and so don’t question them when it happens inside ourselves. It turns into how we self-relate. We lose self-compassion, patience, and understanding. We want to force everything, and then divorce ourselves from our body because we don’t want to feel the consequences of not listening to “resistance”. We think that it’s just not worth listening to anything that we think is resisting.

1039172_angryAn example in my memory is from years ago, when I took a course in song writing. I’d already learned much music theory but kept encountering blocks when trying to write a song. (I still do, even though in high school I wrote a fully orchestrated piece for the concert band). In the course, almost all of the instruction was not about music; it was a coaching of “Just do it! Write!” There was a constant a pressure to just write something, no matter how true it was or where it came from. It didn’t matter what price you paid. The problem was, I was already applying too much pressure to myself. I knew all about pressure. Forcing something can be great in the short term, but over the long term it creates rebellions. This is true in nations, in groups, and in the body and mind. And my mind rebelled. A stress response came up big time. I knew that if I continued to force myself, I would lose any love I have for song writing just to say that I wrote this song.

Of course, there was something in the resistance. It was a piece of me saying “no, if you do it, do it from the right place”. It was inviting me to connect with the passion of wanting to create, rather than pushing myself because I should create. That, to me, is the difference between great creativity and mediocrity. If you’re doing something because you should, it won’t have your soul behind it.

I probably had a bit bigger response than most people would in that class, but I see this as universal. Making an enemy, especially something internal like “resistance” creates a war. War creates violence. Violence leads to shell shock and disconnection from our essential gifts of being fully human. Disconnecting from our humanity (in itself the essence of trauma if taken too far) kills creativity.

Learning to Laugh

Now I’m totally for feeling the fear and doing it anyway, but to me that’s more about laughing with the fear. If you can’t laugh, you’re disconnected. And to me, the only enemy is disconnection. The opposite of disconnection is wholeness. Welcoming everything that’s inside you, even contrary, crazy ideas. When you’re whole, there’s no enemy in yourself, because everything is part of the whole. You don’t get whole by attacking a part of yourself, even if it’s an emotion or thought that feels bad. That’s how you disconnect. Learning to laugh about fear is about feeling the tingle that says “wow, this feels alive and out of control in a good way”.

I often go to the Vancouver Shambhala center, and there they talk a lot about Chogyam Trungpa’s idea of “basic goodness”. Essentially the idea is that every last part of us is unconditionally good. In reality, there’s no healing to do. Whatever is going on – fear, resistance, anger, all these “negatives”- is actually a part of that basic goodness. That’s the foundation behind being present and listening to the present moment. And creativity is fundamentally about listening to a deep-seated whisper and being free enough to let the body and mind be moved by that. When there’s the guns blazing of an internal war against resistance, that whisper is impossible to hear.

When I meditate alone, even after years of meditation and months of retreat, I still get huge impulses to distract myself. Without the presence of others in the room, there’s less restraint in following the desires that arise. I can reach for my cell phone, start a chore or just want to move because I’m feeling discomfort inside. I used to think this was bad, that the ideal was to stay rock-solid, to at least look like I’m a good meditator, even if I’m far from Buddha-like inside. But that’s again making an enemy of these impulses. There’s something beautiful in that discomfort. I find letting myself act on it at times makes it visible, lets me feel what’s really there. When I let my body show all these avoidant impulses, maybe even get up for a bit, then come back, I can meet them more consciously and see them more clearly. If I were to stiffen my body and mind simply to be able to stay still for an hour, I would lose connection. Why meditate if it isn’t to become more whole?

In that discomfort, I usually find shame. Gabor Mate recently said in a talk after the play “Medicine” that shame isn’t at all about shameful thoughts, but rather a primal state of brain chemistry that originates in disconnection. If a mother drops eye contact with her 9 month old child suddenly, the child will slump in a state of shame and create associations if it’s a pattern. Disconnection is a brother of shame. But it’s by allowing some of it, without getting lost in it, that reconnection can occur, that we can discover what was disconnected, and that it is “basically good”. So I allow resistance and listen to it. I allow myself times to run away, to procrastinate for a little while before I come back. Because if I hold a whip over myself, treating myself like a bad mule, meditation and creativity ends up being a war.

It’s unfortunate that we live in a society with so much pressure. It’s tempting to think that we just need to this last thing done. We just need to write, or act, or do something that’s “good for us”. The problem is in always living in short term, all-or-nothing thinking.  There will be times of crisis or need that we push through something to get it done.  But the key is to minimize that, to learn to live most of our lives from another place. If we focus instead on the bigger, long term picture, then there are different priorities. We focus not on results, but dynamics, making relationships (including to the self) better. We choose actions that develop peace and creativity, not actions that fake that we’re already there. We realize that the ends don’t justify the means – the ends are the means. We can’t reach peace and wholeness by any sort of violence, and we can’t be creative by putting ourselves in a small prison inside our mind.

In summary:

Fear is not an enemy. Resistance is not an enemy. Distractions are not an enemy. Discursive thoughts are not an enemy. The only enemy is disconnection. There’s always something to connect to. Connect with resistance and see what’s really there. I guarantee when it’s truly seen it won’t be called resistance anymore.

 

Author: "admin" Tags: "buddhism, love"
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Date: Tuesday, 08 Jan 2013 20:49

Two days ago I went to a small house party with some new age performance acquaintances I have. These were people I’ve met a few times before at parties and done fun things with but didn’t know well.  Hadn’t seen them in close to a year; I’d been to India and had all sorts of different experiences in that time. It was one of those events where there was an unspoken attitude of “let go of fear, just drop all boundaries and surrender to love” with an emphasis on no boundaries and no resistance.

Immediately upon entering, one guy led an exercise where we wrote a couple words about the beginning of a relationship and again about the ending of a relationship. Everyone then paired with one or two people and used those words to speak about both of those experiences, one time “from the mind” with one time “from the heart”, with the not so subtle connotation that being from the heart was better. I was paired with a guy I didn’t know and the exercise leader.

As I spoke, I realized I was both feeling angry and defensive as well as splitting off a bit from myself, Why? In retrospect, this is forced intimacy. There was a sizable amount of peer pressure to behave as if you have built trust, even if you haven’t.  Instead of a space where it’s ok to open up, instead the atmosphere starts with “you must open up” without being obvious about.

I’ve seen this in other exercises before, such as where you stare into another person’s eyes for a long time. In the abstract can seem ok, but if I’m aware of myself, I notice that forcing myself to do this feels bad. And that’s the key word – force.  I hate being forced; it feels violent.  I’m more in the “sensitive” category, so what works for me is taking care on who I open up to. This means discernment about who I am revealing to in words, who I show vulnerability to in my eyes, and who I let inside my personal space and allow more familiar touch to. To me, this is self-care and is an expression of self worth. A parent wouldn’t hand their child to just anyone – why would I hand my soul (or body, or uncertain parts of me) to others?  So this is a fundamental disagreement I have with some personal development workshops and styles.

I then spoke up about this publicly, and the exercise leader tried to use me of an example of resistance to “coming from the heart” by inaccurately rephrasing what I said.  To be honest, it strongly reminded me of the Patrick Swayze character in Donnie Darko – “choose love, not fear!”. Love that movie.  A nice way of trying to keep control.  I left feeling incredibly triggered.

As I am wont to do, it made me think more about boundaries. I wrote about this before, but I’ve lived more, and when I get this body reaction, including minor shakes and convulsions, I think more about what they are and how I didn’t respect myself. So I’ll now list different types of boundaries.

 

Boundary Types

Physical boundaries are the easiest to identify, because a camera can catch them clearly. It’s the acknowledgement and respect of each other’s space.

There’s no precise measure of personal space, yet everyone understands it. Experiments of timelapse photography of people arriving on a beach in a sunny day shows how a plot of sand chosen follows a general algorithm of desiring space and respecting that of others. The area called “personal space” decreased as the area got more crowded, but became even more important.

When personal space is respected, there’s a tiny negotiation when that invisible line is crossed. This can be via eye contact, a little physical hesitation, or asking if it’s ok. After trust has been developed there is an assumption that it is ok, but part of that trust is the understanding that at any time, the asking of physical space will be respected.

Intellectual boundaries are essentially about the space to have different thoughts. More than that, a good intellectual atmosphere is when different thoughts are appreciated. There’s an interest in what you really think.

Our education system, based on memorization, is often subtly (or not so subtly) about imitating the teacher’s mindset. You know how essay grading can be – if you rephrase the teacher’s arguments in class, you’re at least going to get a decent mark. If you go out on your own path, especially if you’re thoughts are still developing, nothing is certain.

High powered workshops or big sales events can at times be a great observation about lack of intellectual boundaries. Brainwashing techniques are essentially meant to break through these, bringing a fleeting high of closeness from everyone seemingly being on the same page. It’s called groupthink. But because it’s forced, there’s a counter reaction and it never lasts. People either leave the group in disillusionment or want more, trying to that next “hit” of a time when everyone seems together in union. Workshop junkies, anyone?

Emotional boundaries are harder to define, but just as important. This is the space to have your own distinct feelings and identity. Being able to respect this space in others takes maturity and listening skills. Most people simply aren’t aware of the full range of different emotions another can have, and so jump to “oh, I understand, you’re feeling ____ (projection) and here’s my advice”.

Reactivity is essentially an expression of not allowing another space. For instance, in my childhood my mother got incredibly upset whenever I would show anger. Love that British culture! To her the world was ending, and her body would tense and she would do whatever it took to “work it out”, which meant that I had to stop feeling it. There was no space for me to have my own feelings, and I ended up feeling worthless the moment I felt anger. It’s been a lifelong lesson for me to learn that this energy has value and is essentially self-protection and self care.

Internal boundaries are also essential. Can you let yourself have an emotion or thought and give it space? Can you let it be there without immediately trying to change it? That is in essence, the basis of meditation. It’s also a great way to practice listening to yourself so you can listen to others better.

Psychologically, one word used for good boundaries is differentiation. I’ve written on that topic before as well. In a Freudian sense, it’s when you fully and deeply know just how different other woman are from your mother, and how different other men are from your father. But mostly it’s about good internal and external boundaries.

Respect of boundaries is so essential because it essentially says “hey, I know you’re a person with the same rights as me”.  To me, there cannot be any real love between people without good boundaries, because you can only love someone for who they actually and truly are. The moment there’s any sort of pressure to conform or not be, think or feel something, then in that moment, there’s non-acceptance. Most boundary crossing is essentially a desire to love by making another (or one’s self) into something easier, in this moment, to love. You find someone else’s “negativity” hard to love, so you try to get in there to affect them in some way that’s easier for you to appreciate and trust, that triggers less reactions.  This inevitably turns into conflict and confusion, because it’s all about control, and the human psyche inevitably wants to be in a free state.

Do you know when you cross boundaries?  Most people don’t seem to.  We get into arguments easily when there’s a lack of respect for intellectual boundaries, such as dismissals.  Relationships end up with fused personas, leaving people wondering where it all went wrong.  And in the dating scene the physical boundaries can be an issue, commonly talked about regarding men not respecting women, but it also occurs from women to men too.  Did that night to me!

Too often we want to jump steps because we want to feel good. It’s amazing how much “just choose LOVE!” philosophy is about non-acceptance. Jumping into “love”, meaning something other than who we are, can never be loving, because it’s not respectful to the present moment. That’s where appreciation comes from – just being ok with what’s going on now.

That wasn’t the end of the evening, but it’s all I want to write about.  It’s taken me a couple days to get centered again, and I’m not totally there yet. I’m still learning that my internal reactions that say “no!” in a strong way are really and truly valuable, no matter what the reactions of other people are. It’s all part of the journey of being true.

 

Author: "admin" Tags: "boundaries, triggering"
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Date: Friday, 23 Nov 2012 01:57

I’ve currently been in a meditation setting for the last month.  This ashram, or center is that of Ramana Maharshi, known as the silent sage.  For over 50 years, he simply sat in mostly silence around a holy hill.  He didn’t try to attract followers, nor did he preach.  He simply answered questions, with the answers being remarkably without judgment.

Those interested in his teachings can read and download Self Enquiry by Ramana Maharshi.

 

In this center, there’s little schedule except meal times and noon break.  No one forces you to sit.  No one keeps track or what you did or gives you suspicious looks if they haven’t seen you meditating.  No one keeps track of your posture.  Most people slouch or lean comfortable against a wall.  The library has a large collection spiritual books from all major religions and teachers, but also has plenty of novels, including detective stories and science fiction.  All that the managers of the ashram do is try to restrict those who come here to those who are serious and non-disruptive.  After that, they leave it to you.  After all, only you know your own Self.

Quite a difference from the 10 day meditational “prison” retreat of Goenka!  Some day I’ll write about that one.

So for a month, I meditated only when I wanted to.  In that month, there of course was letting go.  Letting go of why I should meditate.  Letting go of how to meditate.  Letting go of trying too hard.  Of even thinking I know what meditation is.

It’s easy to say things like “let go” or “forgive”, but to be honest, if we knew how to do it, we would.  In fact, the idea of “how” is based in the conscious, rational left brain.  And that is not what meditation is.

The following is more a reminder for myself, in hopes that I will remember in my body and spirit this experience when I’m back in the chaotic western world which can get my adrenaline up so easily.

Meditation

Meditation is not forced sitting – in fact that is the antithesis of meditation.  If you are forcing yourself to do anything, there is the part of you that is pushing, and a part of you that is resisting or being pushed; an inherent conflict and violence.  True meditation is without violence.  It is just sitting.  There is nothing but sitting, and everything contained in it.  The body sensations, the breathing, the thoughts, the emotions.  But in deep meditation there is nothing “other”.  There is just that.

Because meditation is non-violent at all levels, it is fundamentally new.  Meditation is acting with each breath in a new, different manner, disconnected from habit.

Normally, we don’t act, we react.  We re-act.  We repeat acts of the past.  We act habitually, in the same way we have done before.

Thoughts are by their very nature chained to the past.  On a biological level, they are formed by association with other thoughts or through the “likes” and “dislikes” of the emotional brain’s (or limbic system) past.  They are built from all the labels built up over a lifetime.  But they are not direct experiences, nor are they the “flash” of insight that comes from moments of true relaxation or seeing clearly.

This is why it’s almost impossible to make great progress from a book.  The teacher may be wonderful, but words by themselves are just thoughts.  They may remind us of great inner truths, but they remind us through thoughts, through our past.  What is needed is a gentle shock, a break from the past.  A slight hop out of any ruts in the pathways of brain connections, where in this moment there is something new.  ”Truth is a pathless land”, said JK Krishnamurthi.  When you follow something – a persion, an idea, an identity – you are not in truth.  You cannot be honest with yourself, because to be truly honest you need to put that at the highest priority, which takes a firm knowledge (not a belief) in your own perceptions, your own seeing.

Meditation instructions are great, but should be experienced and forgotten, or else they chain you to thoughts.  I know if I’m thinking of how to meditate, I’m not meditating.  Sometimes when  I’m sitting meditating, there’s all these wonderful wise thoughts about the nature of reality, Self, and meditation, but while I’m chasing those and feeling good about myself, I’m not meditating.

Meditation has no goal.  The irony is that when you meditate for healing or enlightenment, you aren’t meditating.  You’re trying to invest for the future, which of course isn’t now.

The more I learn (or unlearn) about meditation, the more I experience that it’s not in contrast with extreme states like pain, angst, rage, or terror.  It is simply inviting a state of newness to all of them, a spaciousness that gives more possibilities than the normal reactions.  Meditation isn’t constrained to sitting; it just means acting, not reacting.  In wholeness.  Without violence of any kind.

 

 

Author: "admin" Tags: "love"
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Date: Sunday, 05 Aug 2012 12:13

Today I was reading Non Violent Communication again by Marshall Rosenberg. At the same time, I tried some swimming in a small pool to cool down in the heat and to try my muscles a little bit. The pool was quite cold, so I decided to get some real exercise and see what would happen. Although I hoped it wouldn’t happen, not long afterwards I started to get “spacy”, which is one of the symptoms I’ve had from chronic fatigue. My brain felt foggy, like I’m on heavy painkillers. I felt weak and unmotivated, and it got much harder to speak and put words together. Mostly at that point I try to withdraw from anything social, because each interaction takes progressively more effort to try an act normal.

I’ve been trying to understand my symptoms for years now, and while more understanding has come, putting the understanding into practice is often two steps forward, one step back. But the re-reading of Non Violent Communication did offer new insight.

I was reading the section on making requests true requests, not demands. In it, he describes how resistance is naturally formed when a demand is made, even if the wording sounds like a request. If there’s punishment or drama when a request is denied, then the request is actually a demand. If there’s no listening or empathy to the response to a request, it’s an authoritarian command, and there’s nothing more human than to resist this. I think that our souls need freedom and autonomy as much as we need good food to eat.

How does this relate? It relates because thinking of my body as something to command is a wrong understanding. Yes, my body is “me”, but it is also “not me”. It is a network of individual cells and organs, each with its own needs and requests. My body is “me” in that I’m housed by my body and my consciousness is intertwined with it, but it is “not me” in that there are actually many identities out of my conscious control, each needing space and to be listened to when there is feedback. And because of that, they all have their own responses to demands.

If I think of my body as something I own and can do what I want with, a possession like a car that exists solely to follow orders, then I turn into a dictator of my body. I’m making demands, not requests. On the other hand, if I’m too identified with my body, then I can get lost in it and not benefit from a wider consciousness of knowing what is beneficial for my entire being in the long run. What is “me” is not just my stomach or my muscles. If I’m too identified and not aware of the whole, I can easily get reactive. I’d stop any exercise when there’s any soreness and perhaps not want to eat any food if there’s any sour taste. So it’s good to be aware that my body is both “me” and “not me” in this sense. I both have the ability to know what’s best for my body from a place of knowledge and past experience, but also need to balance it with listening deeply to it. Which is another way of saying there needs to be empathy within.

So again, it relates to NVC in that because my body is in this sense “not me”, it also resists demands. Even on a subtle level, if I tell my muscles “do this” in a controlling, non-listening way, like a dictator’s command, I’ve eventually there is a build up an energy that makes me not want to demand anything of it anymore. In other’s lives, perhaps that’s with soreness and pain. Severe back pain is unfortunately commonplace in our society; I’ve experienced that too. But because I’ve used that forceful, dictatorial energy as much with how I approach intellectual work and learning, I think the brain fog is actually a perfect response my body has created. It’s saying “No, this is too much“. My body knows more than me.

Perhaps I’m unusual in this response, but I think it’s a matter only of degree. Certainly these symptoms are not commonplace, and I’m happy others don’t experience them. But I think in western society the idea of control is almost ubiquitous. Parents often raise their children with the idea that “parents know best” and disobedience should be punished. Education is most commonly built upon the idea that there is one “right” answer, even for creative pursuits like commentaries on literature. Our schedules are getting more and more tight and inflexible, so that we know there’s just not room to listen to our bodies if they are asking us to take it easy, to move slower and be more conscious. There are just things we have to do, which implies we have to just ignore our bodies and “just do it”. A response of “get over it” feels natural and familiar when we encounter inner problems – at least until the problems get too large until we know we cannot get over it by issuing more demands of ourselves. There’s more awareness that many of these methods are unhealthy, but I think they are still the norm.

I think also that the pervasiveness of psychological awareness and self-help thought has made demands even more pervasive and unhealthy for many. This can demonstrate itself in the cult of positivity. In my life, I tried to force myself for years to think “positive” and think “healing thoughts” at all times. Self-help books offered quick solutions, so it was pretty natural for me to try to force myself into the “healthy” mold the book extolled. This again was a form of demand, but this time directed at my cognitive brain and emotional system. (Note: I know this tendency is more exacerbated in me than others given my counselor mother’s rather destructive attempts to “heal me” of things she didn’t think were good through forcefully counseling me.)

There has been significant evidence that the “positivity” movement doesn’t help in the long term, and even can contribute to disease. Gabor Mate, in his book “When the Body Says No” (which has been very influential for me) offers evidence that emotional denial through positivity has a significant correlation with various diseases, with a major one being cancer.  Forcing thoughts and emotions on oneself, even if they are considered “positive” by society in general and even inspirational, is still a form of denial and inner demand. And make no mistake – it is a form of violence. Any form of violence will have counter reactions, from simple stress to serious conditions such as chronic fatigue or cancer.

I suppose I’m writing this because I long to live my life without this violence. It’s this violence which is one of the root causes of my symptoms. I know it’s there in me now, in how I relate to my mind and body, even in the smallest movement of lifting up my hand to grasp a glass of water. When I swam in the pool, telling my muscles to push, it wasn’t in a state of togetherness with my body, a collaboration that creates benefit and the pleasure of pure movement for the union of me and my body. No, it was a push, a demand. I’ve known professional athletes who related to their body this way, just pushing and pushing and ignoring pain and any signals that came from their body – and then years later had their own personal breakdowns.

What I long for is more harmony inside. In my body, I imagine learning a movement like I’ve seen in dancers – where there’s a symbiotic joy in movement itself. The body likes to move when it’s given freedom, and the mind likes the freedom of not controlling it too much. It’s a sensation akin to flying. Sometimes when I’ve danced I’ve gone there, albeit irregularly. I know it’s possible. Just as I know it’s possible to relate with others like that, with such empathy and synchronicity it’s again like flying. But getting there is like a ground up bootstrap to another program. To live without violence to myself.

Because how can I treat others kindly when at the most basic level, relating to my own body and brain on a cellular, I cannot treat myself with kindness? Despite my best intentions, I’ve noticed that when stress and anxiety appears and I’ve been relating to myself in language of demands, I start communicating with others through demands. My voice gets colder and without realizing it, I give orders. Often these demands might seem reasonable such as communicating with me using the principles of Non Violent Communication, but in reality they are still demands. Even then, it’s easy to then make demands of myself, ordering myself to communicate and respond like I’m an expert in NVC – but inevitably inner tension builds and it all falls apart. I’m rightfully accused of not following NVC. But in reality it’s impossible for me to make constant demands (often in the form of “shoulds”) of myself without making them for others. They go together. It’s impossible to treat others kindly without, at the most primal level, treating every aspect of this organism I inhabit with kindness and empathetic listening. So I think my body and brain, in their symptoms, are actually helping me develop compassion for others by making sure I learn to listen with kindness to myself.

Lately I did another 10 day silent meditation retreat (not with Goenka – ugh!). Getting up at 4am every day and focusing on very little other than being aware of doing the simplest things, such as breathing and walking. I quite enjoyed walking meditation, especially when I let go of following instructions too strictly. It was a movement without purpose other than awareness and connection with my body, my senses and everything touching them. There was a particular contentment in me after a week had passed. It was a good start. I think every moment of experiencing “another way” plants seeds to live all of life like this. But that’s another blog post.

Author: "admin" Tags: "love"
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Date: Thursday, 29 Mar 2012 20:31

 

This post is of a very personal nature I’m still processing, so please forgive me if it rambles a little…

A short while ago, I was at the wake for my mother, Diana Mary Carsten. She died early in the year. On a Tuesday night, I drank wine at the local Odd-fellows hall in Corvallis, Oregon while listening to her husband and many activists in say how lucky they were to have her in their life. My brother was there and said something banal about how she believed in mind over matter. I didn’t speak. In an environment where you’re supposed to say positive things, I didn’t want to say anything when my feelings were so mixed.

She was a fighter. I heard this over and over again from representatives from all her causes. She was a great advocate and board member for social movements: the League of Woman Voters, the Odd-fellows, the Oregon Green Party, a court advocate, the local symphony, her Christian Science church, and the Peace Vigil. She loved hiking in nature and would travel around the world. When she felt something was wrong, she would fight and not back down, stubborn as hell. You were glad to have her on your side. One young mother might have ended up on the street if not for her.

It was surreal being there. The woman who influenced my life by far the most of anyone was talked about, and it was all about the last 10 years of her life. There was nothing about her family or earlier years. Her second husband, my step dad, had his family there, a group of Mormons. I had never felt any connection to them and they showed no warmth to my emotions or lack of desire at the time to engage in social niceties. When commanded by my step dad’s mom to arrange pictures before the ceremony, I didn’t feel like explaining and quietly walked off and stood on her porch and let my tears come. My brother was the only family there, and by family I only mean in the biological sense; with his Asperger’s syndrome, it’s impossible to hold a conversation with him. He won’t look me in the eye or volunteer anything. He spent the evening staring into space only talking briefly when responded to. When I talked and hinted of what was going on, he simply didn’t respond. At any sign of emotion he freezes and stops talking.

I’m grateful that my girlfriend Aleksandra came down with me.

 

Neither me nor my brother had seen (or talked, for all I know) with my mother in years. Too many bridges burned, trusts betrayed. I still wished her happiness in that time. Just not at my expense.

Hearing all those stories about what a fighter she was brought it close to home. She was a fighter. Perhaps that’s why she found her home in American politics rather than in Canada. She was a fighter through and through. It was how she approached life.

The thing is, sometimes in a family you have to know how not to fight. To just breathe. To listen. To bring warmth and gentleness. To show that no matter what happens, the connection is there. No one spoke any words of that side of her. I tried to remember some of it at the wake and couldn’t.

My memories of my mother were radically different from the others that were voiced. Aside from my brother, no one had met her in the 70s or 80s. Back then, she didn’t have any causes to fight for. She was a single mother with few friends and very little emotional support. She fought for herself, worked hard, and found solace in her children. I was for many years her only support, her confidant, her comforter. It just got too much way too quickly.

In Oregon, she had an incredibly beautiful house on the hillside. I love that house. There were always the sounds of birds, from starlings to hummingbirds, and deer walking by regularly. You could see a pair of mountains called the Sisters in the far distance with caps of snow, bringing a sense of the seemingly unattainable within sight. The house was open aired and spacious and it was at least 200 feet to the nearest other home.

On that Tuesday, I stood on the porch looking at the landscape and hearing the birds swirl around me for an hour or two. I couldn’t always tell what I was thinking or feeling; it was a maelstrom of many emotions and thoughts, bursting free from wherever I’d put them away.

How numb I’d forced myself to be around her. How I’d watched what I said, what emotions I showed on my face, how I moved, all to try to avoid that fighter. Over the years after I had moved out, my body started speaking out and I started listening. I did not want to be touched by her. There was no feeling of safety or comfort near her, no matter how much I thought there ‘should’ be. She’s my mother, after all!

This hit home a couple years ago when I was standing alone with her in the ICU unit of a hospital, watching her helpless body and blank eyes cope with 3 major bleeds in her brain. In a strange way it was only then that I felt safe enough, in a peculiar way, to realize how terrified of her I truly was. How broken and beaten I felt regarding her.

My mother was truly a fighter to the end. And that was her response to everything. I was her son and she took my state incredibly personally. I was her blood. If I felt hurt, she couldn’t take it. It hurt her too much. If there was any possibility that she might have caused the hurt, she simply couldn’t take it. She would fight for my healing, for me forgiving, for me feeling better. She longed for the days of a 5 year old child saying “you’re the best mummy in the world” with eyes that saw nothing that could be wrong. She wanted to be perfect, to be seen as a good, loving human being. And so she would fight for it. She would fight for me to be happy, for me to be warm. She would fight for me to trust her. She would fight for me to support her, because that’s what children should do to good mothers out of gratitude. She would fight with everything she had, with her MA in Counselling Psychology knowledge, with pleas, with threats, with sudden withdrawals, with all her relentlessness and stubbornness – with everything that served her so well as an activist in her later years. In the end I gave in, telling her what she wanted, touching her how she wanted, and trying to feel what she wanted me too. It was the only seeming way to get the battles to end. But there was a price for me always controlling myself – trauma. Body issues began to appear over the years. Sleep disorders. Anxiety. Debilitating back pain. Dizziness. Chronic Fatigue. All of which can get into the nice term of “Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” or C-PTSD.

But in my visit, in that space of beauty that was her house, I felt for a moment what I must have felt as a child. Cared for. Safe. Surrounded by beauty. I remember feeling that as a very young child, and I did feel it around my mother before things went sour and into a negative feedback loop. And I knew it was me feeling it, not just because it was what I was supposed to feel because she was my mother. I cried and cried. The truth is, I loved that house. I loved being in that house – so long as my mother wasn’t there. I could feel her presence still – but for 30 years I haven’t felt safe or relaxed with her near. Of course there’s love there. It felt so good to feel some of that love without feeling that sensation of no man’s land, a war zone of impending attack.

A week later in a strange way, standing alone by a rushing river, I talked to my mom. I actually felt that wherever she is, she is sorry. That was a word I never heard from her. She would rather fight than say sorry. But this time I felt it. I never wanted to hear “I’m a bad mother” from her. I wanted to hear it wasn’t my fault, which was what I heard over and over. I wanted to hear that she cared enough to listen to my hurt without trying to fight or change me, to just listen. That’s such an important part of love.

I’m still processing that she’s gone. What does it mean? How will all the defense I built up react when ther person they were created for is gone? But maybe things are moving. For years I didn’t remember any good feelings in my body, and now I can, like waking from a bad dream. As my previous post stated, I’m more committed now to just being where I am, letting go as best I can and taking the next breath. Pretending to have more answers than that just hasn’t served me.

 

 

Author: "admin" Tags: "love"
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Date: Monday, 26 Mar 2012 19:38

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.

If you liked that post, then try these...

an allowing space by admin on July 23rd, 2007
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 man who kept talking by admin on March 11th, 2008
Here's a story: a parable worthy of ancient times.

On Intimacy by admin on April 7th, 2007
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".

Author: "admin" Tags: "dealing with life, listening, love"
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Date: Friday, 06 May 2011 17:47

I was listening to a speaker once, some time ago, in a community room at the top floor of a hospital. He spoke passionately and vehemently about mental health, about meditation, about positive thinking, and above all about community. I could hear his thoughts: I know the solution for you. I have overcome all you can dream of. I can be your guide.

His voice entranced, and I found myself wanting to believe. Surely there must be a simple solution to discontentment, to anxiety, to feeling isolated – these are with me still. The heartaches inside were in that moment were no longer beautiful, but the enemy, a cloud of terrorism sniping at me. And yet, after 10 minutes of a guided meditation, I found myself less peaceful. Feelings gathered: Resentment. Feeling manipulated. You don’t listen. Voices of my childhood, compounded with interest. Gathering myself later, I realized that this reaction wasn’t a problem, but a reflexion of the actual dynamic, to the timbre of his voice and how things were said.

The voice is the primary means of relation we have. It’s how we make connections. It’s the impetus for learning how to truly listen to others, to be loving. It’s also how we influence and try to find a sense of power in this world. As such, everyone has tactics and communication styles they use when they’ve been disempowered, to try to find a sense of power again. It’s the double horns of a defense that can also be manipulation and control. Some do this unconsciously, some consciously. In response to others, we then have our own reactions to these games, or at least unconscious until we see what’s actually going on.

One of my favorite skills I’ve learned from acting is in the studying of people. What is someone’s goal when communicating? What’s the subtext of what they are saying? One of my favorite statistics is that only 7% of communication is through the words; the rest is nuances in the voice and body language. Being conscious of the other 93% is the best tool I have for understanding dynamics and people at their essence.

The times I love both in watching others and in being with others are when things seem real. Conversation flows at its flowing, unmodified pace, without a seeming effort of anyone to appear to be someone else. The pace, tone, and intonation changes in sync with the emotion and what’s being communicated. There is a dynamism, flexibility and fluidity involved. When there’s anxiety, the voice is shaky and unprotected, perhaps quicker. When there’s disappointment, there’s that sense in the voice of having tripped, of falling down. When there’s joy, there’s a sunlight beaming in the voice.

It’s that sense of unprotectedness, ingenuous honesty and transparency of whatever’s there that makes me feel connected. Seeing another’s despair communicated makes me appreciate rapture even more. It’s the beauty of the human condition, a connection to a raw state. It’s not the forced connection of someone molding themselves so as to relate, but the manifestation that it’s our bare humanness, as we are, that connects.

And yet, most of the time, we limit what we communicate. We put on masks. We have styles where we’re trying to protect ourselves or get something.

Tactics

 

I want to identify some protection mechanisms I’ve noticed in the voice. These are ways of manipulation and control, the ways we aren’t natural. I find identifying them helps me let go of my own tactics and be gentle with myself in my reactions to others. (A gracious thanks to the theatrical vocal teacher Patsy Rodenburg for many of these concepts) Being aware of protection mechanisms can help one see “oh, I’m doing this, so maybe now I can let go – or at least laugh at myself for keeping doing it.”

Not all tactics are aggressive. In fact, most people in western culture have learned ways to defend themselves by non-aggressive or even withdrawing mannerisms. We have been taught suspicion of the used car salesmen, yet often have little awareness of how most subtler strategies can affect us strongly. Perhaps you can recognize yourself or someone you know in these.

I’ll start with the easiest one to recognize:

The Aggressive, Overbearing Speaker

This is the prototypical drill sergeant. The voice is usually deep and resonant, but always with confrontation at least implied. The chest is puffed up and the body leans forward, as if the person requires another to push back to keep their balance. While resonant and full, there’s little gentleness, nor room for warmth or sadness.

While this is the prototype for strength in military fashion, it also makes sure the environment is too unsafe for vulnerability. There is little room for compromise or friendship, but certainly room for fellow soldiers. Often it is a cover for emotions never felt and constantly kept at bay by the image of toughness and pushing others around through the voice.

The Hesitator

While someone who hesitates and stammers may seem to be powerless, there is a hook – that the listener is left hanging, waiting for the next word, dangling onto a potential completed idea. In the pause that follows, the hesitator can gauge the audience and draw others in the direction they desire, albeit unconsciously. Even though there is discomfort in the hesitator, there is a power in making others feel they need to tread lightly for fear of blocking the next phrase. If a room is feeled with kind, gentle people the hesitator can steer a conversation in a manner that a clear, fluent speaker never could.

The manipulation is that we are made to think that words and thoughts are being created organically before our eyes and ears. We excuse the habit in order to be generous and because we think the person is naturally shy or reserved. Yet this hesitation can constructed carefully over years – even if unconsciously – in order to learn about others without revealing one’s self. It is useful in that it leads others to vulnerability and openness without having to reciprocate. One sided vulnerability is also an imbalance of power.

The Whisperer

Otherwise known as the “de-voicer”, this is someone who goes quiet, either via a quiet voice or by simply not speaking. This is often used by guru-figures as a way of drawing people in.

It may not seem aparent as a way to manipulate others until you observe your own body in response to when you are trying to actively listen. By withdrawing and speaking more silently, the whisperer forces listeners to strain, to lean forward and to figuratively bow at his or her feet. It is de-centering to be around for a long time.

It can indeed be a hypnotic technique and is often used by executives, politicians, or theatre directors. Because it is more subtle (quiet voices are rarely perceived as dangerous) it can be more effective than being overbearing.

The Waffler

This kind of vocal manipulation involves abandoning clear and succint language in favor of rambling thoughts. Buzz words obfuscating real meaning are often the norm. The language used can be learned and embellished, giving the impression of education and erudition, yet leaving the listener with no clear idea to latch on to.

Even more so, the listener can easily feel that they are at fault for not deciphering the message, and so can try to argue using the same language form which they are not nearly as comfortable with as the waffler. It can be a useful defensive habit to avoid answering direct questions or avoid unpleasantness, or even to convince others of something using impassionated, yet unclear words. This is a habit often cultivated by politicians, so-called experts in talk shows and doctors trying to avoid telling the whole truth.

The Role Player

The role player communicates as if everyone around them was the same. They have chosen a role –  e.g., mother, helper, or coach, to use positive roles – and infuse their voice with this at all times.

Imagine the feminine presence of someone who addresses everyone around them as if they were a pre-pubescent child. The automatic reaction is either subservience or rebellion, both dis-empowering states. Or the counselor who, through a lifetime of practice, has learned to infuse their voice as someone who truly loves and accepts all others, who contains nothing but love and compassion, irrespective of what they are feeling. I am not talking about a natural voice infused with compassion, but rather a constructed voice, an artifice. This creates a pied piper, hypnotic effect where the listener reacts as if it were true, that the speaker is indeed showing love at this moment and can be trusted.

Not all roles appear “positive”, but they all have one thing in common; it is an attempt to control how others react to you by inviting them strongly to jump into the role that matches what is played.

Deeper Connection Through the Natural Voice

 

All of these styles of communication are at the same time both weaknesses and sources of power. They enable us to make an impact of source, but also limit that impact to a vastly restricted playing field. They have usually developed over a lifetime, and as such they are not let go of easily, especially if there are rewards.

The problem is that in each of these, there is learned helplessness. There are always times where a soul-driven cry to speak is heard – and at these times, if our habits are too entrenched and opposite from the silent voice inside made vocal, we will be helpless. They atrophy our range and full humanness of expression. When we surrender to the monotonous use of a single habit in communication, we surrender many of our vocal rights and abilities to connect with others and be an active member of a community or family.

Again, it is through being ourselves, as fully as is humanly possibly, that we discover basic truths: We are connected at a deep, visceral level not through doing anything, but through being true and natural. Feeling loved grows from a foundation of being genuine. Warmth comes naturally when we’re being simply human, showing that there is basic goodness in however we are.

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Date: Friday, 12 Nov 2010 00:48

One of my loves is the theatre.? I’ve studied acting, clowning, and improvisation, and I’ve performed onstage for years, everything from bedroom farce to Dracula to Shakespeare.? I love it because it brings me to a heightened state of aliveness.

My love of acting has little to do with the adulation that comes from the applause for a good performance, but it has everything to do with acting’s relationship to an inner exploration.? In acting, you explore your very identity.? You explore creation.? You explore going within yourself in order to be someone else.? You find other beings and energy inside yourself. By doing this, you expand yourself – and expand everyone else who watches.

All of the other actors I know who value this aspect of acting as I do are also very spiritual people.? We may not write inspiring prose and we may not belong to any congregation, but we see a temple in the exultation of unhibited emotion.? Having surrendered within to our many selves, we’ve received a firsthand glimpse into the oneness that we all share.? And through all this, we’ve learned incredible amounts? about ourselves through the intricate tapestry of our most visible measure of ourselves: relationships.

It would be too much in this one post to recount the many lessons in the playfulness that is theatre, so for now I’ll focus on one critical element any actor learns quickly: status.


Status as a Flow of Energy in Interactions

It may be unfashionable to mention status in the politically-correct culture of the “land of the free”, but we are all influenced by it on some level.? We know when we are speaking to an “important” person.? We are affected by this knowledge.? The energetically sensitive feel how energy naturally flows to the “higher status” person.? There’s always a reaction to this.? Sometimes the effect is on our emotional reaction, from admiration to resentment.? Sometimes the effect automatically creates a dynamic in the relationship: subservience or combativeness.? Not everyone reacts the same way, but everyone feels it.? We react to it even more because we’re not supposed to notice it.

Education, on the level of status, has made us blind.? We’re supposed to believe that the homeless person living in a cardboard box is a human being with the same value and perfection we have, but I have yet to see someone interact with a homeless person on that level.? In my experience there’s disgust, aversion, or pity – all signs of the perception of status and the flow of energy from it.

In this competitive world, the cultural model is built around status.? It governs the intrinsic framework of relationships.

Most of us notice status but don’t think of it consciously.? We want to “succeed” but in order to do so we must go up a rung on the status ladder.? Being “successful”.? Owning a house, or a nice car.? Being respected by others.? Showing mastery in something and being able to come across well at social events.? Academic success.? Even spiritual mastery is subject to the concept of status — the idea of “ascension”, or “old” souls being somehow better, are perfect examples.? Being accepted as “enlightened” is very high status.? But we don’t think of what status truly is, and especially not what the ultimate expression of status is.

Exploring Status Yourself

One exercise in theatre is to “play” status.? Everyone is awarded a different number between 1 and 10, with 10 being the highest status.?? I invite you to play this at a party; it’s great fun and a wonderful tool for growth.

panhandlerNumber one, the lowest status, takes as little space as possible.? Shame is the sea in which this status swims.? It’s as if you were homeless and were just waiting to be rounded up.? You make little eye contact. Your motions are hesitant. You are beaten before you even begin.

As the status scale increases, there’s increasingly less shame and an increasingly strong, proud, engaging bearing.? Yet while going up the scale, you’re always in a state of comparison.? You notice your relationships with others: who is lower status and who is higher?? You need to please the ones with higher status.? You give in and give them energy.? Life force flows to them, leaving the lower status empty. At the same time, you must protect your place from those “lower” than you are and maybe even get some energy from them. Yet you remain ever vigilant against them, happy when they appear to be in their “place.”

As an aside, it is for this reason that it’s no accident that it’s those on the lower status of society that are most angry towards illegal immigrants.

What is interesting in this game, and is the reason I’m mentioning this here, is what happens at the top of the spectrum. These are the people with ultra-high status.? If you’re close to the top, you know you’re above most of the world, but there’s still insecurity and full of comparison.? There is still someone above you, somewhere, somehow. You are still comparing. In our society, this might be the ultra rich — they know they have status, but they are still in competition and are looking for some way they can finally feel above it all.

At the very top, however, is a paradox: the ultimate status is with those who move beyond it. ? To these people there is no such thing as status.? The person with the “highest” status is unconcerned with games of comparison or worthiness.? They know their value.? They see their importance.? It is indisputable.? There is no question and no game.? They can be who they are without any reluctance, guile, or mask.? They can relate to others as they are. They can be in torment and doubt, and yet still be they are, without shame, and know it has absolute value. ?It is as if they were born into unspoilt royalty.? Life is full of bounty and beauty, and there is no question that the universe finds them full of value and their desires welcome.? This is true status.

enlightenmentWhy do I mention this?? Because it is inextricably linked with the western spiritual quest.? There are thousands upon thousands of blogs on personal growth and advice giving.? In my experience, very few of them give from a sense of complete fullness.? Instead, there is a desire to feel good from having others appreciate the inspiration and insight.? (One of the reasons I stopped writing for a time was because this impulse was very strong within me.)? This is status: the more others appreciate you and give you applause and energy, the higher your status.

And yet, part of this is the problem of Arrogance: when you gain energy from putting forth something that is not fully who you are, not from true vulnerability, then you keep yourself from the highest levels of status and worth.?? By trying to raise your status out of lack, you entrench yourself as “lower status”.

The idea of the ‘evolved person’, the manifested man, the enlightened one, is also intrinsic to the highest status.? The manifested person is at the highest status, wherever he is.? He could be among nobles or beggars — it doesn’t matter.

My ‘ideal’ of how to live within status is the ideal of living in the highest status and treating every other thing in the Universe as also in that status.

Imagine this for yourself.? You are at the highest status.? Everything supports you and naturally gives you energy without depleting itself.? The universe responds naturally to you.? And yet you interact with everything as equals.? You see the smallest blade of grass as also of the highest status.? There is nothing to defend against, no lack, and even no status.? There is only plenty.

In short, the ideal is to live in beingness — fully vulnerable as who you are. This is the ultimate expression of status.? Think of Siddhartha by the river in his old age. He shows his perfection as he is whether he is surrounded by adulants or insects.? It is an expression of completeness.

Many people on a western spiritual path use the greeting ‘namaste’ without really considering what it means, but it is another way to express this ideal. Your highest nature welcomes and greets the highest nature of that which is around you. You welcome and embrace all that you are, and you treat every other thing in the Universe as reverentially as your own highest nature.

So I say to you all:???????? Namaste

I now ask you: from your own deep honesty and vulnerability, what is the truth of how you view your status in relationship with the world?

Author: "admin" Tags: "relationships, Self, awareness, emotions..."
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Date: Wednesday, 26 May 2010 20:19

In the last few months, I’ve seen more of just how much power I give away from myself.

Now that I’m focusing on this, I see just how ubiquitous it is. Just yesterday, when staring out the window, I could see a child being curious about something in the grass, perhaps a little bug. Her eyes were alit with commodious wonder. Mother didn’t want to spare the time, and so pulled her along with a forceful word, and the child lost the look of vastness in her face. There was nothing abusive in it, nothing a normal parent wouldn’t do; but the child submitted to authority and lost something in that moment. A?despondency?came over me for a few minutes. I could put myself in the life of that child.

I’ve been well trained in this practice. I can think, “Other people know better than me. I should just focus on what I “should” be doing.” Or I go to the flip side of it and try to be the parent: “Hey you – I know what I’m doing! Listen to me!” I know how to speak with authority, at least in my voice and posture. That can cover up my own doubts and pain.

I can’t say I’m above any of it now. But I can say I’m a little less carried away by things. I notice my own reactions.

This morning I noticed my own reaction to several videos, which I’m including here. They are from two spiritual teachers who speak of somewhat similar things, Eckhart Tolle and J.Krishmnamurthi. I wanted to share these reactions.

First, let’s listen to Eckhart, who of course is very well known from his books and Oprah.

I listened to this Eckhart clip from a facebook update, and I experimented with simply surrendering to the energy, trying to let the stream of thoughts permeate me and experience it that way. To be honest, it wasn’t the most pleasant thing. I couldn’t find anything I disagreed with in it at all. There were no untruths spoken. I could take a different perspective, or not simplify it so much, but it’s all valid. However, at the end of it what I felt was that Eckhart knew all about ego and spaciousness – but I didn’t feel I did. I felt myself wanting to learn more, to reach out to get that feeling of spaciousness, like it was an emptiness in me that needed to be filled.

Now this is my own subjective personal reaction, but perhaps it resonates with you. We’re so used to authority, someone who knows more than I, that it’s so easy to jump into that dynamic. Perhaps it’s not Echkart himself, but the hype surrounding him. We can think that someone else is more knowledgeable about our own psyche, our own well being, than ourselves. I’ve seen this in groups of many spiritual teachers, especially of the Monty Python “you must think for yourselves” variety.

Here’s a video from the?library of Krishnamurthi

If I let the energy of this inundate me like I did with Eckhart my reaction is that I laugh. I lighten up. Something in the glint of the eyes and his passion bring that laughter from a place within me. He’s talking about conflict, about going beyond thought and the past – similar things to Eckhart – but for some reason I think that we are discovering this together. In that moment I’m not learning, I’m not accumulating knowledge, I’m simply seeing something.  I remember this reaction from other videos I’ve seen of him.

I think this is something universal about what a teacher is. This applies in all sorts of teaching, including high school – “A Teacher Creates Peers, not Fans“. A true teacher creates knowledge, not followers. They help you see, feel and think for yourself, not?imitate or thirst for more from them. They help you experience spaciousness and knowing, not simply want it.

I’m not actually saying that one teacher is better than another here. I’ve also seen people do the Monty Python thing with Krishnamurthi. too. I am saying that judging by my own reactions, I find him beneficial for me. Solely for me. But the process to get there is universal. Does someone help you hear your own voice? What does it truly feel like? Does someone feel like a peer to you? Does someone speak with you (even if via a video it is still with, not to) beyond power, beyond status? That is also what a friend is.

I think we need to unify the concepts of teacher and friend. I don’t know of any dear friend I’m not learning so much from.

I also think the issue of authority to be universal, at least in how we run our society today. It’s a process I’ve seen in so many journeys: First, we see how little we know and look for people to learn from. Then we learn from someone or something, becoming a follower or student. Then we want to rise above it and become a teacher, an authority. We want followers ourselves. (Notice this about bloggers?) Sometimes this is very subtle from without, but recognizable within – “hey, no one responded to this! Don’t they see I offer something of value here?!”

Chogyam Trungpa, the founder of the Shambhala Centers of Buddhism of which Pema Chodron is a teacher within, writes “The problem is that the ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality”. It’s easy to learn about awareness, spirituality, and love, and then want to be the authority on it.

But finally, if we are willing to let it all go, we can go beyond the interactions of power and worth, and simply become ourselves, with whoever we are, whatever we know, and all that we see. There is nothing needed to become except more of who we are. No external authority can help with that.

What is your relationship with authority?

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Date: Sunday, 23 May 2010 20:39

First of all, let me apologize for the twitch a couple months ago where Feedburner sent the same email over 5 times. I don’t know why it did it and it was nothing I did, but I was off the ball and didn’t turn it off quickly. Hopefully it’s fixed; I upgraded, but turned email off just in case.

Now to actually write here again.  So let’s start with:

In the last few months, I’ve seen more of just how much power I give away from myself.

Now that I’m focusing on this, I see just how ubiquitous it is.   Just yesterday, when staring out the window, I could see a child being curious about something in the grass, perhaps a little bug.  Her eyes were alit with commodious wonder.  Mother didn’t want to spare the time, and so pulled her along with a forceful word, and the child lost the look of vastness in her face.  There was nothing abusive in it, nothing a normal parent wouldn’t do; but the child submitted to authority and lost something in that moment.  A despondency came over me for a few minutes.  I could put myself in the life of that child.

I’ve been well trained in this practice.   I can think, “Other people know better than me.  I should just focus on what I “should” be doing.”   Or I go to the flip side of it and try to be the parent:  ”Hey you – I know what I’m doing!  Listen to me!”  I know how to speak with authority, at least in my voice and posture.  That can cover up my own doubts and pain.

I can’t say I’m above any of it now.  But I can say I’m a little less carried away by things.  I notice my own reactions.

This morning I noticed my own reaction to several videos, which I’m including here.   They are from two spiritual teachers who speak of somewhat similar things, Eckhart Tolle and J.Krishmnamurthi.  I wanted to share these reactions.

First, let’s listen to Eckhart, who of course is very well known from his books and Oprah.

I listened to this Eckhart clip from a facebook update, and I experimented with simply surrendering to the energy, trying to let the stream of thoughts permeate me and experience it that way.   To be honest, it wasn’t the most pleasant thing.  I couldn’t find anything I disagreed with in it at all.  There were no untruths spoken.  I could take a different perspective, or not simplify it so much, but it’s all valid.  However, at the end of it what I felt was that Eckhart knew all about ego and spaciousness – but I didn’t feel I did.  I felt myself wanting to learn more, to reach out to get that feeling of spaciousness, like it was an emptiness in me that needed to be filled.

Now this is my own subjective personal reaction, but perhaps it resonates with you.  We’re so used to authority, someone who knows more than I, that it’s so easy to jump into that dynamic.   Perhaps it’s not Echkart himself, but the hype surrounding him.  We can think that someone else is more knowledgeable about our own psyche, our own well being, than ourselves.  I’ve seen this in groups of many spiritual teachers, especially of the Monty Python “you must think for yourselves” variety.

Here’s a video from the library of Krishnamurthi

If I let the energy of this inundate me like I did with Eckhart my reaction is that I laugh.  I lighten up.  Something in the glint of the eyes and his passion bring that laughter from a place within me.  He’s talking about conflict, about going beyond thought and the past – similar things to Eckhart – but for some reason I think that we are discovering this together. In that moment I’m not learning, I’m not accumulating knowledge, I’m simply seeing something.   I remember this reaction from other videos I’ve seen of him.

I think this is something universal about what a teacher is.   This applies in all sorts of teaching, including high school – “A Teacher Creates Peers, not Fans“.  A true teacher creates knowledge, not followers.  They help you see, feel and think for yourself, not imitate or thirst for more from them.  They help you experience spaciousness and knowing, not simply want it.

I’m not actually saying that one teacher is better than another here.  I’ve also seen people do the Monty Python thing with Krishnamurthi. too.  I am saying that judging by my own reactions, I find him beneficial for me.   Solely for me.    But the process to get there is universal.  Does someone help you hear your own voice?   What does it truly feel like?  Does someone feel like a peer to you?  Does someone speak with you (even if via a video it is still with, not to) beyond power, beyond status?    That is also what a friend is.

I think we need to unify the concepts of teacher and friend.  I don’t know of any dear friend I’m not learning so much from.

I also think the issue of authority to be universal, at least in how we run our society today.  It’s a process I’ve seen in so many journeys:  First, we see how little we know and look for people to learn from.  Then we learn from someone or something, becoming a follower or student.  Then we want to rise above it and become a teacher, an authority.  We want followers ourselves.   (Notice this about bloggers?)  Sometimes this is very subtle from without, but recognizable within – “hey, no one responded to this!  Don’t they see I offer something of value here?!”

Chogyam Trungpa, the founder of the Shambhala Centers of Buddhism of which Pema Chodron is a teacher within, writes “The problem is that the ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality”.  It’s easy to learn about awareness, spirituality, and love, and then want to be the authority on it.

But finally, if we are willing to let it all go, we can go beyond the interactions of power and worth, and simply become ourselves,  with whoever we are, whatever we know, and all that we see.  There is nothing needed to become except more of who we are.  No external authority can help with that.

What is your relationship with authority?

Author: "matthew" Tags: "allowing, love, transformation, awarenes..."
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Date: Thursday, 07 Jan 2010 23:29

I recently read Urban Monk’s post on forgiveness and it brought thoughts of my own, some of which I commented on there.

statueOne of the disagreements I have with what some people write about forgiveness is the idea that it’s about letting go of hatred.  Hatred, in that mindset, is an evil which must be expunged.  To me, that’s a misguided idea of what hatred is.

Forgiveness is simply letting go. That’s it.  No more than that.   And by this, I don’t mean “getting rid of”.  Letting go means a positive non-attachment.   It beings being ok with things being there, but letting go of the need for anything to change.  Being fine with the present moment – whatever it is.   Hatred can still be there. Hatred is not incompatible.

When we think hatred has to go for forgiveness to exist, we pretend forgiveness.

If forgiveness has to look a certain way, of course we’re going to fake it.  We want to look that way too.

I went through years of wondering about forgiveness after my childhood of abuse.   “I shouldn’t be feeling hatred”, I thought.   When I expressed pain or hatred about my mother, the suggestion to forgive was often automatically given.  The word “forgiveness” was a word used against to me that meant “those unpleasant emotions should not be there”.  What I was feeling was wrong, somehow. And yes, there was hatred in there.

What I learned, after some time, was that deep inside hate is beauty.  What hatred really says is “I want distance”.   If there’s something incredibly unhealthy going on, hatred results, because the body and soul speak up about it.  The flower hates the volcano, in its own way, because it cannot live near the volcano. It doesn’t dwell on it, and there is also love there – but it still wants distance.

Does hatred feel bad?  Not always!  Not when there’s acceptance of it.  As I said, hatred is not exclusive of love.   Just like anger doesn’t exclude love.  I love this table of the seven levels of anger.  What’s interesting about it is that while the first level, the most separate, is fairly destructive, the final level of anger is essentially love.  The anger is still there, but when it shows up it comes out in harmony.

In my experience, every emotion – including anger and hatred – is a fundamental, unchangeable energy of the universe with a wide spectrum of manifestation.    That’s sort of theoretical, so let’s put it this way.  Hatred Is.  Anger Is. They are here, within us and everyone, and there’s nothing we can do to rid ourselves of them.  What we can do is allow them completely so that their manifestations are more  flowing, peaceful, and respectful.

It’s very loosely analogous to  the levels of energy in “Power vs. Force”.   In that book, each emotion, person or perspective has a basic energy level.   To me, emotional love can manifest as clinging or it can be utterly accepting.  Anger can be rage or it can be used for a loving, positive change, like Gandhi.  Hatred can be used to do violence (which involves a certain us-vs-them  perspective) or it can be used to generate positive distance (from a more accepting, flowing perspective).   No matter how it looks to others, it’s the same fundamental life energy of the universe appearing in each of those emotions, albeit manifested differently.   As anyone seriously hurt knows, the hurt never goes away – but it can manifest very differently and even lovingly.  The energy of hurt is expanded and flowing, or contracted and blocked.

Most people see different ways an emotion appears as being very different emotions.   Our minds likes to do Aristotle’s trick of separating and categorizing.  That makes us feel in control.  But if you watch – really watch – someone when they’re talking about something in which they are very emotive, you can see the beautiful fluidity of it all.  I began to see that it wasn’t a battle royal of emotions, each one jousting for supremacy, but instead an oceanic maelstrom that comes from the oneness of the deepest soul.   All those different emotions were simply different faces of the same energy.

How does that help?  It has helped me let go of some judgments, I suppose.  Because when I try to use the knife point of categorization, I find I do violence to myself.   Just like violence is done to others when I try to counsel them to deny real but painful parts of themselves.   When I try to say hatred has to leave me for me to forgive, that is violence.   And even more hatred within myself is the inevitable consequence of that violence.

But the times in which I’ve surrender – and forgived at the same time – to my own emotions, the process doesn’t make them  go away, but instead makes the same energy manifest differently.  It makes it feel more loving to others.

From experience, I know that any attempt to say that an emotion, like hatred, should not be there, simply creates intractableness. We end up fighting ourselves to be that image of forgiveness. The goal is wholeness, which includes everything inside ourselves, even the parts we don’t think of as “good”.

Forgiveness is not achieved in spite of hatred, but through it.


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Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 07 Jan 2010 23:29

I recently read Urban Monk’s post on forgiveness and it brought thoughts of my own, some of which I commented on there.

statueOne of the disagreements I have with what some people write about forgiveness is the idea that it’s about letting go of hatred.  Hatred, in that mindset, is an evil which must be expunged.  To me, that’s a misguided idea of what hatred is.

Forgiveness is simply letting go. That’s it.  No more than that.   And by this, I don’t mean “getting rid of”.  Letting go means a positive non-attachment.   It beings being ok with things being there, but letting go of the need for anything to change.  Being fine with the present moment – whatever it is.   Hatred can still be there. Hatred is not incompatible.

When we think hatred has to go for forgiveness to exist, we pretend forgiveness.

If forgiveness has to look a certain way, of course we’re going to fake it.  We want to look that way too.

I went through years of wondering about forgiveness after my childhood of abuse.   “I shouldn’t be feeling hatred”, I thought.   When I expressed pain or hatred about my mother, the suggestion to forgive was often automatically given.  The word “forgiveness” was a word used against to me that meant “those unpleasant emotions should not be there”.  What I was feeling was wrong, somehow. And yes, there was hatred in there.

What I learned, after some time, was that deep inside hate is beauty.  What hatred really says is “I want distance”.   If there’s something incredibly unhealthy going on, hatred results, because the body and soul speak up about it.  The flower hates the volcano, in its own way, because it cannot live near the volcano. It doesn’t dwell on it, and there is also love there – but it still wants distance.

Does hatred feel bad?  Not always!  Not when there’s acceptance of it.  As I said, hatred is not exclusive of love.   Just like anger doesn’t exclude love.  I love this table of the seven levels of anger.  What’s interesting about it is that while the first level, the most separate, is fairly destructive, the final level of anger is essentially love.  The anger is still there, but when it shows up it comes out in harmony.

In my experience, every emotion – including anger and hatred – is a fundamental, unchangeable energy of the universe with a wide spectrum of manifestation.    That’s sort of theoretical, so let’s put it this way.  Hatred Is.  Anger Is. They are here, within us and everyone, and there’s nothing we can do to rid ourselves of them.  What we can do is allow them completely so that their manifestations are more  flowing, peaceful, and respectful.

It’s very loosely analogous to  the levels of energy in “Power vs. Force”.   In that book, each emotion, person or perspective has a basic energy level.   To me, emotional love can manifest as clinging or it can be utterly accepting.  Anger can be rage or it can be used for a loving, positive change, like Gandhi.  Hatred can be used to do violence (which involves a certain us-vs-them  perspective) or it can be used to generate positive distance (from a more accepting, flowing perspective).   No matter how it looks to others, it’s the same fundamental life energy of the universe appearing in each of those emotions, albeit manifested differently.   As anyone seriously hurt knows, the hurt never goes away – but it can manifest very differently and even lovingly.  The energy of hurt is expanded and flowing, or contracted and blocked.

Most people see different ways an emotion appears as being very different emotions.   Our minds likes to do Aristotle’s trick of separating and categorizing.  That makes us feel in control.  But if you watch – really watch – someone when they’re talking about something in which they are very emotive, you can see the beautiful fluidity of it all.  I began to see that it wasn’t a battle royal of emotions, each one jousting for supremacy, but instead an oceanic maelstrom that comes from the oneness of the deepest soul.   All those different emotions were simply different faces of the same energy.

How does that help?  It has helped me let go of some judgments, I suppose.  Because when I try to use the knife point of categorization, I find I do violence to myself.   Just like violence is done to others when I try to counsel them to deny real but painful parts of themselves.   When I try to say hatred has to leave me for me to forgive, that is violence.   And even more hatred within myself is the inevitable consequence of that violence.

But the times in which I’ve surrender – and forgived at the same time – to my own emotions, the process doesn’t make them  go away, but instead makes the same energy manifest differently.  It makes it feel more loving to others.

From experience, I know that any attempt to say that an emotion, like hatred, should not be there, simply creates intractableness. We end up fighting ourselves to be that image of forgiveness. The goal is wholeness, which includes everything inside ourselves, even the parts we don’t think of as “good”.

Forgiveness is not achieved in spite of hatred, but through it.


If you liked that post, then try these...

Balancing the centers of your body, part 1 by matthew on April 27th, 2008
This was part of a work I started for a workshop in Tuscon I helped lead with Karen.

Loving Awareness - an exercise by matthew on July 2nd, 2007
As I mentioned in the previous blog, I'm co-writing a book with Karen Murphy centered around the subject of Love.

Balancing the centers of your body, part 2 by matthew on April 28th, 2008
This is second of a two part series.

Author: "matthew" Tags: "Self, pain, relationships, transformatio..."
Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 07 Jan 2010 23:29

I recently read Urban Monk’s post on forgiveness and it brought thoughts of my own, some of which I commented on there.

statueOne of the disagreements I have with what some people write about forgiveness is the idea that it’s about letting go of hatred.  Hatred, in that mindset, is an evil which must be expunged.  To me, that’s a misguided idea of what hatred is.

Forgiveness is simply letting go. That’s it.  No more than that.   And by this, I don’t mean “getting rid of”.  Letting go means a positive non-attachment.   It beings being ok with things being there, but letting go of the need for anything to change.  Being fine with the present moment – whatever it is.   Hatred can still be there. Hatred is not incompatible.

When we think hatred has to go for forgiveness to exist, we pretend forgiveness.

If forgiveness has to look a certain way, of course we’re going to fake it.  We want to look that way too.

I went through years of wondering about forgiveness after my childhood of abuse.   “I shouldn’t be feeling hatred”, I thought.   When I expressed pain or hatred about my mother, the suggestion to forgive was often automatically given.  The word “forgiveness” was a word used against to me that meant “those unpleasant emotions should not be there”.  What I was feeling was wrong, somehow. And yes, there was hatred in there.

What I learned, after some time, was that deep inside hate is beauty.  What hatred really says is “I want distance”.   If there’s something incredibly unhealthy going on, hatred results, because the body and soul speak up about it.  The flower hates the volcano, in its own way, because it cannot live near the volcano. It doesn’t dwell on it, and there is also love there – but it still wants distance.

Does hatred feel bad?  Not always!  Not when there’s acceptance of it.  As I said, hatred is not exclusive of love.   Just like anger doesn’t exclude love.  I love this table of the seven levels of anger.  What’s interesting about it is that while the first level, the most separate, is fairly destructive, the final level of anger is essentially love.  The anger is still there, but when it shows up it comes out in harmony.

In my experience, every emotion – including anger and hatred – is a fundamental, unchangeable energy of the universe with a wide spectrum of manifestation.    That’s sort of theoretical, so let’s put it this way.  Hatred Is.  Anger Is. They are here, within us and everyone, and there’s nothing we can do to rid ourselves of them.  What we can do is allow them completely so that their manifestations are more  flowing, peaceful, and respectful.

It’s very loosely analogous to  the levels of energy in “Power vs. Force”.   In that book, each emotion, person or perspective has a basic energy level.   To me, emotional love can manifest as clinging or it can be utterly accepting.  Anger can be rage or it can be used for a loving, positive change, like Gandhi.  Hatred can be used to do violence (which involves a certain us-vs-them  perspective) or it can be used to generate positive distance (from a more accepting, flowing perspective).   No matter how it looks to others, it’s the same fundamental life energy of the universe appearing in each of those emotions, albeit manifested differently.   As anyone seriously hurt knows, the hurt never goes away – but it can manifest very differently and even lovingly.  The energy of hurt is expanded and flowing, or contracted and blocked.

Most people see different ways an emotion appears as being very different emotions.   Our minds likes to do Aristotle’s trick of separating and categorizing.  That makes us feel in control.  But if you watch – really watch – someone when they’re talking about something in which they are very emotive, you can see the beautiful fluidity of it all.  I began to see that it wasn’t a battle royal of emotions, each one jousting for supremacy, but instead an oceanic maelstrom that comes from the oneness of the deepest soul.   All those different emotions were simply different faces of the same energy.

How does that help?  It has helped me let go of some judgments, I suppose.  Because when I try to use the knife point of categorization, I find I do violence to myself.   Just like violence is done to others when I try to counsel them to deny real but painful parts of themselves.   When I try to say hatred has to leave me for me to forgive, that is violence.   And even more hatred within myself is the inevitable consequence of that violence.

But the times in which I’ve surrender – and forgived at the same time – to my own emotions, the process doesn’t make them  go away, but instead makes the same energy manifest differently.  It makes it feel more loving to others.

From experience, I know that any attempt to say that an emotion, like hatred, should not be there, simply creates intractableness. We end up fighting ourselves to be that image of forgiveness. The goal is wholeness, which includes everything inside ourselves, even the parts we don’t think of as “good”.

Forgiveness is not achieved in spite of hatred, but through it.


Author: "matthew" Tags: "Self, pain, relationships, transformatio..."
Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 07 Jan 2010 23:29

I recently read Urban Monk’s post on forgiveness and it brought thoughts of my own, some of which I commented on there.

statueOne of the disagreements I have with what some people write about forgiveness is the idea that it??s about letting go of hatred. ?Hatred, in that mindset, is an evil which must be expunged. ?To me, that??s a misguided idea of what hatred is.

Forgiveness is simply letting go. That??s it. ?No more than that. ? And by this, I don’t mean “getting rid of”. ?Letting go means a positive non-attachment. ? It beings being ok with things being there, but letting go of the need for anything to change. ?Being fine with the present moment – whatever it is. ? Hatred can still be there. Hatred is not incompatible.

When we think hatred has to go for forgiveness to exist, we pretend forgiveness.

If forgiveness has to look a certain way, of course we’re going to fake it. ?We want to look that way too.

I went through years of wondering about forgiveness after my childhood of abuse. ? “I shouldn’t be feeling hatred”, I thought. ? When I expressed pain or hatred about my mother, the suggestion to forgive was often automatically given. ?The word ??forgiveness?? was a word used against to me that meant ??those unpleasant emotions should not be there??. ?What I was feeling was wrong, somehow. And yes, there was hatred in there.

What I learned, after some time, was that deep inside hate is beauty. ?What hatred really says is ??I want distance??. ? If there’s something incredibly unhealthy going on, hatred results, because the body and soul speak up about it. ?The flower hates the volcano, in its own way, because it cannot live near the volcano. It doesn??t dwell on it, and there is also love there ?? but it still wants distance.

Does hatred feel bad? ?Not always! ?Not when there’s acceptance of it. ?As I said, hatred is not exclusive of love. ? Just like anger doesn’t exclude love. ?I love this table of the seven levels of anger. ?What’s interesting about it is that while the first level, the most separate, is fairly destructive, the final level of anger is essentially love. ?The anger is still there, but when it shows up it comes out in harmony.

In my experience, every emotion – including anger and hatred – is a fundamental, unchangeable energy of the universe with a wide spectrum of manifestation. ? ?That’s sort of theoretical, so let’s put it this way. ?Hatred Is. ?Anger Is. They are here, within us and everyone, and there’s nothing we can do to rid ourselves of them. ?What we can do is allow them completely so that their manifestations are more ?flowing, peaceful, and respectful.

It??s very loosely analogous?to ?the levels of energy in ??Power vs. Force??. ? In that book, each emotion, person or perspective has a basic energy level. ? To me, emotional love can manifest as clinging or it can be utterly accepting. ?Anger can be rage or it can be used for a loving, positive change, like Gandhi. ?Hatred can be used to do violence (which involves a certain us-vs-them ?perspective) or it can be used to generate positive distance (from a more accepting, flowing perspective). ? No matter how it looks to others, it??s the same fundamental life energy of the universe appearing in each of those emotions, albeit manifested differently. ? As anyone seriously hurt knows, the hurt never goes away – but it can manifest very differently and even lovingly. ?The energy of hurt is expanded and flowing, or contracted and blocked.

Most people see different ways an emotion appears as being very different emotions. ? Our minds likes to do Aristotle’s trick of separating and categorizing. ?That makes us feel in control. ?But if you watch – really watch – someone when they’re talking about something in which they are very emotive, you can see the beautiful fluidity of it all. ?I began to see that it wasn’t a battle royal of emotions, each one jousting for supremacy, but instead an oceanic maelstrom that comes from the oneness of the deepest soul. ? All those different emotions were simply different faces of the same energy.

How does that help? ?It has helped me let go of some judgments, I suppose. ?Because when I try to use the knife point of categorization, I find I do violence to myself. ? Just like violence is done to others when I try to counsel them to deny real but painful parts of themselves. ? When I try to say hatred has to leave me for me to forgive, that is violence. ? And even more hatred within myself is the inevitable consequence of that violence.

But the times in which I’ve surrender – and forgived at the same time – to my own emotions, the process doesn’t make them ?go away, but instead makes the same energy manifest differently. ?It makes it feel more loving to others.

From experience, I know that any attempt to say that an emotion, like hatred, should not be there, simply creates intractableness. We end up fighting ourselves to be that image of forgiveness. The goal is wholeness, which includes everything inside ourselves, even the parts we don’t think of as “good”.

Forgiveness is not achieved in spite of hatred, but through it.


If you liked that post, then try these...

The beauty of gray by matthew on September 22nd, 2007
Recently it's hit home just how pervasive black and white thinking is.

On Intimacy by matthew on April 7th, 2007
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".

About Loving Awareness by matthew on September 1st, 2007
About the site The title "Loving Awareness" has a very intentional double meaning.

Author: "matthew" Tags: "pain, relationships, Self, transformatio..."
Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 07 Jan 2010 23:29

I recently read Urban Monk’s post on forgiveness and it brought thoughts of my own, some of which I commented on there.

statueOne of the disagreements I have with what some people write about forgiveness is the idea that it’s about letting go of hatred.  Hatred, in that mindset, is an evil which must be expunged.  To me, that’s a misguided idea of what hatred is.

Forgiveness is simply letting go. That’s it.  No more than that.   And by this, I don’t mean “getting rid of”.  Letting go means a positive non-attachment.   It beings being ok with things being there, but letting go of the need for anything to change.  Being fine with the present moment – whatever it is.   Hatred can still be there. Hatred is not incompatible.

When we think hatred has to go for forgiveness to exist, we pretend forgiveness.

If forgiveness has to look a certain way, of course we’re going to fake it.  We want to look that way too.

I went through years of wondering about forgiveness after my childhood of abuse.   “I shouldn’t be feeling hatred”, I thought.   When I expressed pain or hatred about my mother, the suggestion to forgive was often automatically given.  The word “forgiveness” was a word used against to me that meant “those unpleasant emotions should not be there”.  What I was feeling was wrong, somehow. And yes, there was hatred in there.

What I learned, after some time, was that deep inside hate is beauty.  What hatred really says is “I want distance”.   If there’s something incredibly unhealthy going on, hatred results, because the body and soul speak up about it.  The flower hates the volcano, in its own way, because it cannot live near the volcano. It doesn’t dwell on it, and there is also love there – but it still wants distance.

Does hatred feel bad?  Not always!  Not when there’s acceptance of it.  As I said, hatred is not exclusive of love.   Just like anger doesn’t exclude love.  I love this table of the seven levels of anger.  What’s interesting about it is that while the first level, the most separate, is fairly destructive, the final level of anger is essentially love.  The anger is still there, but when it shows up it comes out in harmony.

In my experience, every emotion – including anger and hatred – is a fundamental, unchangeable energy of the universe with a wide spectrum of manifestation.    That’s sort of theoretical, so let’s put it this way.  Hatred Is.  Anger Is. They are here, within us and everyone, and there’s nothing we can do to rid ourselves of them.  What we can do is allow them completely so that their manifestations are more  flowing, peaceful, and respectful.

It’s very loosely analogous to  the levels of energy in “Power vs. Force”.   In that book, each emotion, person or perspective has a basic energy level.   To me, emotional love can manifest as clinging or it can be utterly accepting.  Anger can be rage or it can be used for a loving, positive change, like Gandhi.  Hatred can be used to do violence (which involves a certain us-vs-them  perspective) or it can be used to generate positive distance (from a more accepting, flowing perspective).   No matter how it looks to others, it’s the same fundamental life energy of the universe appearing in each of those emotions, albeit manifested differently.   As anyone seriously hurt knows, the hurt never goes away – but it can manifest very differently and even lovingly.  The energy of hurt is expanded and flowing, or contracted and blocked.

Most people see different ways an emotion appears as being very different emotions.   Our minds likes to do Aristotle’s trick of separating and categorizing.  That makes us feel in control.  But if you watch – really watch – someone when they’re talking about something in which they are very emotive, you can see the beautiful fluidity of it all.  I began to see that it wasn’t a battle royal of emotions, each one jousting for supremacy, but instead an oceanic maelstrom that comes from the oneness of the deepest soul.   All those different emotions were simply different faces of the same energy.

How does that help?  It has helped me let go of some judgments, I suppose.  Because when I try to use the knife point of categorization, I find I do violence to myself.   Just like violence is done to others when I try to counsel them to deny real but painful parts of themselves.   When I try to say hatred has to leave me for me to forgive, that is violence.   And even more hatred within myself is the inevitable consequence of that violence.

But the times in which I’ve surrender – and forgived at the same time – to my own emotions, the process doesn’t make them  go away, but instead makes the same energy manifest differently.  It makes it feel more loving to others.

From experience, I know that any attempt to say that an emotion, like hatred, should not be there, simply creates intractableness. We end up fighting ourselves to be that image of forgiveness. The goal is wholeness, which includes everything inside ourselves, even the parts we don’t think of as “good”.

Forgiveness is not achieved in spite of hatred, but through it.


If you liked that post, then try these...

Balancing the centers of your body, part 1 by matthew on April 27th, 2008
This was part of a work I started for a workshop in Tuscon I helped lead with Karen.

Balancing the centers of your body, part 2 by matthew on April 28th, 2008
This is second of a two part series.

Loving Awareness - an exercise by matthew on July 2nd, 2007
As I mentioned in the previous blog, I'm co-writing a book with Karen Murphy centered around the subject of Love.

Author: "matthew" Tags: "Self, pain, relationships, transformatio..."
Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 07 Jan 2010 23:29

I recently read Urban Monk’s post on forgiveness and it brought thoughts of my own, some of which I commented on there.

statueOne of the disagreements I have with what some people write about forgiveness is the idea that it’s about letting go of hatred.  Hatred, in that mindset, is an evil which must be expunged.  To me, that’s a misguided idea of what hatred is.

Forgiveness is simply letting go. That’s it.  No more than that.   And by this, I don’t mean “getting rid of”.  Letting go means a positive non-attachment.   It beings being ok with things being there, but letting go of the need for anything to change.  Being fine with the present moment – whatever it is.   Hatred can still be there. Hatred is not incompatible.

When we think hatred has to go for forgiveness to exist, we pretend forgiveness.

If forgiveness has to look a certain way, of course we’re going to fake it.  We want to look that way too.

I went through years of wondering about forgiveness after my childhood of abuse.   “I shouldn’t be feeling hatred”, I thought.   When I expressed pain or hatred about my mother, the suggestion to forgive was often automatically given.  The word “forgiveness” was a word used against to me that meant “those unpleasant emotions should not be there”.  What I was feeling was wrong, somehow. And yes, there was hatred in there.

What I learned, after some time, was that deep inside hate is beauty.  What hatred really says is “I want distance”.   If there’s something incredibly unhealthy going on, hatred results, because the body and soul speak up about it.  The flower hates the volcano, in its own way, because it cannot live near the volcano. It doesn’t dwell on it, and there is also love there – but it still wants distance.

Does hatred feel bad?  Not always!  Not when there’s acceptance of it.  As I said, hatred is not exclusive of love.   Just like anger doesn’t exclude love.  I love this table of the seven levels of anger.  What’s interesting about it is that while the first level, the most separate, is fairly destructive, the final level of anger is essentially love.  The anger is still there, but when it shows up it comes out in harmony.

In my experience, every emotion – including anger and hatred – is a fundamental, unchangeable energy of the universe with a wide spectrum of manifestation.    That’s sort of theoretical, so let’s put it this way.  Hatred Is.  Anger Is. They are here, within us and everyone, and there’s nothing we can do to rid ourselves of them.  What we can do is allow them completely so that their manifestations are more  flowing, peaceful, and respectful.

It’s very loosely analogous to  the levels of energy in “Power vs. Force”.   In that book, each emotion, person or perspective has a basic energy level.   To me, emotional love can manifest as clinging or it can be utterly accepting.  Anger can be rage or it can be used for a loving, positive change, like Gandhi.  Hatred can be used to do violence (which involves a certain us-vs-them  perspective) or it can be used to generate positive distance (from a more accepting, flowing perspective).   No matter how it looks to others, it’s the same fundamental life energy of the universe appearing in each of those emotions, albeit manifested differently.   As anyone seriously hurt knows, the hurt never goes away – but it can manifest very differently and even lovingly.  The energy of hurt is expanded and flowing, or contracted and blocked.

Most people see different ways an emotion appears as being very different emotions.   Our minds likes to do Aristotle’s trick of separating and categorizing.  That makes us feel in control.  But if you watch – really watch – someone when they’re talking about something in which they are very emotive, you can see the beautiful fluidity of it all.  I began to see that it wasn’t a battle royal of emotions, each one jousting for supremacy, but instead an oceanic maelstrom that comes from the oneness of the deepest soul.   All those different emotions were simply different faces of the same energy.

How does that help?  It has helped me let go of some judgments, I suppose.  Because when I try to use the knife point of categorization, I find I do violence to myself.   Just like violence is done to others when I try to counsel them to deny real but painful parts of themselves.   When I try to say hatred has to leave me for me to forgive, that is violence.   And even more hatred within myself is the inevitable consequence of that violence.

But the times in which I’ve surrender – and forgived at the same time – to my own emotions, the process doesn’t make them  go away, but instead makes the same energy manifest differently.  It makes it feel more loving to others.

From experience, I know that any attempt to say that an emotion, like hatred, should not be there, simply creates intractableness. We end up fighting ourselves to be that image of forgiveness. The goal is wholeness, which includes everything inside ourselves, even the parts we don’t think of as “good”.

Forgiveness is not achieved in spite of hatred, but through it.


If you liked that post, then try these...

Balancing the centers of your body, part 1 by matthew on April 27th, 2008
This was part of a work I started for a workshop in Tuscon I helped lead with Karen.

Loving Awareness - an exercise by matthew on July 2nd, 2007
As I mentioned in the previous blog, I'm co-writing a book with Karen Murphy centered around the subject of Love.

Balancing the centers of your body, part 2 by matthew on April 28th, 2008
This is second of a two part series.

Author: "matthew" Tags: "Self, pain, relationships, transformatio..."
Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 07 Jan 2010 23:29

I recently read Urban Monk’s post on forgiveness and it brought thoughts of my own, some of which I commented on there.

statueOne of the disagreements I have with what some people write about forgiveness is the idea that it’s about letting go of hatred.  Hatred, in that mindset, is an evil which must be expunged.  To me, that’s a misguided idea of what hatred is.

Forgiveness is simply letting go. That’s it.  No more than that.   And by this, I don’t mean “getting rid of”.  Letting go means a positive non-attachment.   It beings being ok with things being there, but letting go of the need for anything to change.  Being fine with the present moment – whatever it is.   Hatred can still be there. Hatred is not incompatible.

When we think hatred has to go for forgiveness to exist, we pretend forgiveness.

If forgiveness has to look a certain way, of course we’re going to fake it.  We want to look that way too.

I went through years of wondering about forgiveness after my childhood of abuse.   “I shouldn’t be feeling hatred”, I thought.   When I expressed pain or hatred about my mother, the suggestion to forgive was often automatically given.  The word “forgiveness” was a word used against to me that meant “those unpleasant emotions should not be there”.  What I was feeling was wrong, somehow. And yes, there was hatred in there.

What I learned, after some time, was that deep inside hate is beauty.  What hatred really says is “I want distance”.   If there’s something incredibly unhealthy going on, hatred results, because the body and soul speak up about it.  The flower hates the volcano, in its own way, because it cannot live near the volcano. It doesn’t dwell on it, and there is also love there – but it still wants distance.

Does hatred feel bad?  Not always!  Not when there’s acceptance of it.  As I said, hatred is not exclusive of love.   Just like anger doesn’t exclude love.  I love this table of the seven levels of anger.  What’s interesting about it is that while the first level, the most separate, is fairly destructive, the final level of anger is essentially love.  The anger is still there, but when it shows up it comes out in harmony.

In my experience, every emotion – including anger and hatred – is a fundamental, unchangeable energy of the universe with a wide spectrum of manifestation.    That’s sort of theoretical, so let’s put it this way.  Hatred Is.  Anger Is. They are here, within us and everyone, and there’s nothing we can do to rid ourselves of them.  What we can do is allow them completely so that their manifestations are more  flowing, peaceful, and respectful.

It’s very loosely analogous to  the levels of energy in “Power vs. Force”.   In that book, each emotion, person or perspective has a basic energy level.   To me, emotional love can manifest as clinging or it can be utterly accepting.  Anger can be rage or it can be used for a loving, positive change, like Gandhi.  Hatred can be used to do violence (which involves a certain us-vs-them  perspective) or it can be used to generate positive distance (from a more accepting, flowing perspective).   No matter how it looks to others, it’s the same fundamental life energy of the universe appearing in each of those emotions, albeit manifested differently.   As anyone seriously hurt knows, the hurt never goes away – but it can manifest very differently and even lovingly.  The energy of hurt is expanded and flowing, or contracted and blocked.

Most people see different ways an emotion appears as being very different emotions.   Our minds likes to do Aristotle’s trick of separating and categorizing.  That makes us feel in control.  But if you watch – really watch – someone when they’re talking about something in which they are very emotive, you can see the beautiful fluidity of it all.  I began to see that it wasn’t a battle royal of emotions, each one jousting for supremacy, but instead an oceanic maelstrom that comes from the oneness of the deepest soul.   All those different emotions were simply different faces of the same energy.

How does that help?  It has helped me let go of some judgments, I suppose.  Because when I try to use the knife point of categorization, I find I do violence to myself.   Just like violence is done to others when I try to counsel them to deny real but painful parts of themselves.   When I try to say hatred has to leave me for me to forgive, that is violence.   And even more hatred within myself is the inevitable consequence of that violence.

But the times in which I’ve surrender – and forgived at the same time – to my own emotions, the process doesn’t make them  go away, but instead makes the same energy manifest differently.  It makes it feel more loving to others.

From experience, I know that any attempt to say that an emotion, like hatred, should not be there, simply creates intractableness. We end up fighting ourselves to be that image of forgiveness. The goal is wholeness, which includes everything inside ourselves, even the parts we don’t think of as “good”.

Forgiveness is not achieved in spite of hatred, but through it.


If you liked that post, then try these...

Balancing the centers of your body, part 1 by matthew on April 27th, 2008
This was part of a work I started for a workshop in Tuscon I helped lead with Karen.

Balancing the centers of your body, part 2 by matthew on April 28th, 2008
This is second of a two part series.

Loving Awareness - an exercise by matthew on July 2nd, 2007
As I mentioned in the previous blog, I'm co-writing a book with Karen Murphy centered around the subject of Love.

Author: "matthew" Tags: "Self, pain, relationships, transformatio..."
Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 07 Jan 2010 23:29

I recently read Urban Monk’s post on forgiveness and it brought thoughts of my own, some of which I commented on there.

statueOne of the disagreements I have with what some people write about forgiveness is the idea that it’s about letting go of hatred.  Hatred, in that mindset, is an evil which must be expunged.  To me, that’s a misguided idea of what hatred is.

Forgiveness is simply letting go. That’s it.  No more than that.   And by this, I don’t mean “getting rid of”.  Letting go means a positive non-attachment.   It beings being ok with things being there, but letting go of the need for anything to change.  Being fine with the present moment – whatever it is.   Hatred can still be there. Hatred is not incompatible.

When we think hatred has to go for forgiveness to exist, we pretend forgiveness.

If forgiveness has to look a certain way, of course we’re going to fake it.  We want to look that way too.

I went through years of wondering about forgiveness after my childhood of abuse.   “I shouldn’t be feeling hatred”, I thought.   When I expressed pain or hatred about my mother, the suggestion to forgive was often automatically given.  The word “forgiveness” was a word used against to me that meant “those unpleasant emotions should not be there”.  What I was feeling was wrong, somehow. And yes, there was hatred in there.

What I learned, after some time, was that deep inside hate is beauty.  What hatred really says is “I want distance”.   If there’s something incredibly unhealthy going on, hatred results, because the body and soul speak up about it.  The flower hates the volcano, in its own way, because it cannot live near the volcano. It doesn’t dwell on it, and there is also love there – but it still wants distance.

Does hatred feel bad?  Not always!  Not when there’s acceptance of it.  As I said, hatred is not exclusive of love.   Just like anger doesn’t exclude love.  I love this table of the seven levels of anger.  What’s interesting about it is that while the first level, the most separate, is fairly destructive, the final level of anger is essentially love.  The anger is still there, but when it shows up it comes out in harmony.

In my experience, every emotion – including anger and hatred – is a fundamental, unchangeable energy of the universe with a wide spectrum of manifestation.    That’s sort of theoretical, so let’s put it this way.  Hatred Is.  Anger Is. They are here, within us and everyone, and there’s nothing we can do to rid ourselves of them.  What we can do is allow them completely so that their manifestations are more  flowing, peaceful, and respectful.

It’s very loosely analogous to  the levels of energy in “Power vs. Force”.   In that book, each emotion, person or perspective has a basic energy level.   To me, emotional love can manifest as clinging or it can be utterly accepting.  Anger can be rage or it can be used for a loving, positive change, like Gandhi.  Hatred can be used to do violence (which involves a certain us-vs-them  perspective) or it can be used to generate positive distance (from a more accepting, flowing perspective).   No matter how it looks to others, it’s the same fundamental life energy of the universe appearing in each of those emotions, albeit manifested differently.   As anyone seriously hurt knows, the hurt never goes away – but it can manifest very differently and even lovingly.  The energy of hurt is expanded and flowing, or contracted and blocked.

Most people see different ways an emotion appears as being very different emotions.   Our minds likes to do Aristotle’s trick of separating and categorizing.  That makes us feel in control.  But if you watch – really watch – someone when they’re talking about something in which they are very emotive, you can see the beautiful fluidity of it all.  I began to see that it wasn’t a battle royal of emotions, each one jousting for supremacy, but instead an oceanic maelstrom that comes from the oneness of the deepest soul.   All those different emotions were simply different faces of the same energy.

How does that help?  It has helped me let go of some judgments, I suppose.  Because when I try to use the knife point of categorization, I find I do violence to myself.   Just like violence is done to others when I try to counsel them to deny real but painful parts of themselves.   When I try to say hatred has to leave me for me to forgive, that is violence.   And even more hatred within myself is the inevitable consequence of that violence.

But the times in which I’ve surrender – and forgived at the same time – to my own emotions, the process doesn’t make them  go away, but instead makes the same energy manifest differently.  It makes it feel more loving to others.

From experience, I know that any attempt to say that an emotion, like hatred, should not be there, simply creates intractableness. We end up fighting ourselves to be that image of forgiveness. The goal is wholeness, which includes everything inside ourselves, even the parts we don’t think of as “good”.

Forgiveness is not achieved in spite of hatred, but through it.


If you liked that post, then try these...

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As I mentioned in the previous blog, I'm co-writing a book with Karen Murphy centered around the subject of Love.

Balancing the centers of your body, part 1 by matthew on April 27th, 2008
This was part of a work I started for a workshop in Tuscon I helped lead with Karen.

Author: "matthew" Tags: "Self, pain, relationships, transformatio..."
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