Freedom to Hold and Be Held In Our Bodies
Meditation and Coffee Time – Friday 5/10/13
Freedom. This is the feeling that came over me in meditation. Freedom to be ME with all of my anxiety, my defenses of pride and self-will, my enthusiasm for life, and more. This is not a static feeling of freedom, but rather a feeling of freedom that changes moment by moment as the dynamics of life sweep through me as is their fluid nature. This is all part of the healthy human package – freely feeling all feelings, not defending against feeling any feeling that is in me.
I note that the freedom to be me does not mean absence of anxiety but rather I am free to feel my raw primary anxiety, rather than defending against feeling my raw primary anxiety by, for example, my defense of fearing the raw primary feeling of anxiety, or I could say, by being anxious about having anxiety – which would lead to a negative vortex of anxiety – anxious about being anxious about being anxious, ad infinitum. The raw primary feeling of anxiety is a “soft” feeling. The anxiety over feeling the raw primary feeling of anxiety is a “hard” feeling of anxiety. Freedom lets me fully feel the raw primary feeling of anxiety. Being defended amplifies the soft feeling into a hard feeling of anxiety, perhaps leading to extreme anxiety, a hard pain, an unbearable pain.
In being free to be anxious, free to feel my raw primary anxiety, comes my freedom to tease out and experience the disharmonies in my life – disharmonies which are identified in my spiritual practice of daily review. I learn from my disharmonies, a learning which cannot happen if I am not accepting my anxiety in the first place but rather am deep into being anxious about my raw primary anxiety, or if I am moralizing the disharmonies per se as “bad” and something to defend against feeling by the additional defenses of withdrawal, pride, or self-will. This showed me the courage it takes to do daily review, cutting through my defenses against even seeing disharmonies in my life.
So as I look at my disharmonies from yesterday what do I notice? What immediately pops up is the email I sent to Patti Elledge, facilitator of the DARe workshop on attachment disorders that Pat and I are attending June 6-9 (click to open announcement). Why did I write Patti? Here is how this all came about. Yesterday Bob Edwards interviewed Rachel Barton Pine, professional classical violinist, who was discussing her latest CD release: Violin Lullabies. Rachel is a mother and, as her mother did for her, she wanted to sing, and in her case play, lullabies to her infant children. She collected 150 lullabies from the classical genre and recorded them as she played them on her violin. Later she would hold her infant while they both listened to the sweet violin music she recorded. Since she is a recording artist, Rachel then decided to make 25 of these lullaby recordings available to other mothers by releasing this CD. Since I am dealing with attachment disorder issues myself, I was drawn to Pine’s offerings here and wanted to share this CD “find” with the facilitator of our upcoming attachment work, Patti Elledge.
That sharing was fine as far as it went, but I shared more, and this is where my disharmony set in later in the day. I shared a section of my recent blog regarding my somatic session with Ed Gutfreund. Why did this sharing of my blog entry with Patti produce disharmony in me? I realized that it bothered me for several reasons. First, I feared it would reflect negatively on Ed – since his words about my “brilliance” broke my sense of oneness with him? If my sharing this aspect of my experience would reflect negatively on Ed, this would be slanderous – and Gary cannot be slanderous and hurt Ed! Second, was all this sharing with Patti revealing a narcissistic trait in me, revealing that I am so full of myself? And again, Gary cannot be seen as narcissistic! Or was my sharing with Patti coming out of my pride, wanting to impress Patti with my “deep work” on myself? Of course Gary could never be seen as prideful! Revealing all of these traits in me by sharing my blog entry would reveal to Patti that I am “missing the mark” of my Idealized Self Image. So this was making me very anxious and fearful – yes, I was experiencing disharmony. I was anxious about having to face that I am not as highly evolved in my consciousness as I would like to be. So one source of disharmony came from my pride.
And there is more. Why did I share this with Patti at all? Or write out in my blog my experience with Ed in the first place? Was this sharing due to any positive trait in me? Or was this all of this sharing motivated by narcissistic pride? Maybe, but another part of me sees another side. These self-reflections that I share in my blog are very alive in me, a part of my Life Force, my Eros for Life. The energy is that of innocent joy, spewing forth from my Divine Essence whether or not others engage with what I share. This blogging is to me what painting is to an artist. Sure an artist likes positive feedback and appreciation for his or her work, but there is also joy in the mere creation whether or not others appreciate it. In a way it is like a second grader fully alive in front of the class doing an enthusiastic “show and tell” about what is most alive in him or her. So this positive force was also involved in my sharing. In addition, the writing in these blogs is an opportunity for me to clarify, honor, and integrate what comes to me in life.
But in a way this positive dimension has its own risk. When I share what is most alive in me, what is coming directly from my Essence (with some distortion of course), then there is much more at stake in the sharing, a deeper vulnerability. Why? Because from this deeper place I am sharing of my Essence and if my very Essence is mocked or rejected my very identity is challenged. This pain of rejection of my Essence I find unbearable. Unless, of course, I am solid in my own identity and impervious to the opinions of others concerning who I am at my core Essence.
Spelling out this disharmony in my daily review helped me see the ludicrousness of the filter through which I want to control my behavior and come across as “perfect,” no room for being “merely and utterly human!” This led me to nearly laugh out loud at myself! Such a hoot.
But when I am feeling oneness with the All rather than separate, then I experience freedom and from such freedom I can gently confront myself as I am doing here and be playful with all the nuances that make up the traits I have taken on in this life time. My traits are not me, and I can choose to work on those I do not like and grow out of them as I mature. After our session a week ago, Moira reminded me of what turns out to be one of my favorite Pathwork Lectures – Pathwork Lecture 174 Self Esteem. So I shall listen to this during my workout today.
(Interestingly, later in the day Patti Elledge got back to me thanking me for trusting her with my deep sharing – and again I have to smile at myself. I am aware that, as I was with Ed, I am tempted to let Patti’s affirming mirroring lead to separateness (pride that she sees my sharing as “deep,” or that I trusted her) rather than the Oneness through positive mirroring she is offering even here. Yes, I can be, as they say, “A piece of work!” Glad I can have a sense of humor about all this.
At this point Pat joined me for our daily Coffee Time…
Pat: It is hard for me to be with myself today. Where are we anchored, stabilized in ourselves? I feel I am in a swirl with a number of actions I need to take this morning. In these actions there is no “Right” or “Wrong.” Nothing is perfect. This is the dilemma – worrying about “right” and “wrong” actions when such is not reality. So how can I be supported in my being in my anxiety here? I’m remembering your session with Ed on Tuesday where you had the experience of being supported in your body on the massage table. I sense that is the support my body longs to experience.
With this I shared my meditation reflections concerning Patti Elledge, etc. Gary: We have no freedom when everything we say and do has to be censored and scrutinized before we act, when nothing can be spontaneous. Or if we are spontaneous, then we may experience panic after our actions – “What did I just do, or say?” “Yikes, the horse is out of the barn! What will others think?” This fear reminds me of my dream of many years ago – I was naked on a dolly, moving around a parking lot on my back only to be spotted by a woman peering down from a second floor window. She caught me! I was in panic and had to hide my nakedness. This is not being free! Pat: I feel your pain. I am here for you. Gary: All we can do is hold each other – AND risk allowing the other to hold us in our pain. This being held in our pain is being vulnerable with one another in our humanity, imperfect as each of us is.
Pat: What is that dynamic, that interplay between the two of us in such situations. I get triggered when you say that I can depend on you or you can depend on me. When I am depending upon you, allowing you to hold me, it sounds like we are leaving out Spirit. What holds me up is beyond my or your small-self being. There is a vast Source – if I would only trust that Source then all would be well. Perhaps I could consider the container of US holding you or me rather than I holding you or you holding me. There is both a vertical and a horizontal holding here.
Gary: Yes for sure, vertical AND horizontal dimensions of holding and supporting one another and ourselves. Consider Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. To God he said, “Please take this cup from me, but nevertheless not my will but thy will be done.” This was the vertical dimension. To his three disciples he said, “Watch and pray with me.” This was the horizontal dimension of holding. Jesus was allowing himself to be held vertically and horizontally. And of course here the horizontal was fickle (the disciples fell asleep) and God did not take the cup of suffering away as Jesus had asked.
I notice that while you get triggered by my saying you and I hold each other, I get triggered when you insist that it is US holding and NOT sometimes I hold you and sometimes you hold me. Pat: You are triggered because I have to include God in this, the vertical dimension? Gary: Yes, I would say that I get triggered when you turn toward God and away from me. Pat: I do this because you and I are powerless. We need God.
Gary: Let’s explore this a bit. I would offer that part of the human experience – being merely and utterly human – is to come to allow ourselves to be held by others whom we see. I would say this has to happen before we can come to allow ourselves to be held by God, or by the All, or by the God Within, whom we cannot see. I need to first experience in my body not being separate. We are incarnated for the purpose of experiencing Oneness, Unity, (i.e., non-separateness) in our physical and emotional bodies.
Gary: For me, I must come to accept my weakness of not relating to people – a weakness in socialization skills. Yes, this is a weakness. Yes, I want to grow out of it, but first I must accept that I have this weakness of not being able to relate to people very well. When I call it a weakness that I want to grow out of, then I do not want to moralize my weakness and say I am BAD because of my weakness. No. I am simply weak in socialization skills. And this weakness results in pain – in my life and in the life of others around me. This pain of being weak in socialization skills is uncomfortable, emotionally painful. As a child I could not stand this discomfort of not having socialization skills, so I defended against this pain via withdrawing, my pride leading me to relate by being superior in some way, and self-will – willing myself to behave in certain ways that might appear loving and caring. Of course these defenses did not build socialization skills and only left me even more disconnected from others. Now I need to let go of my defenses that make me separate from others and feel the pain of this separateness. Pat: This is the pain that is unbearable, the word you used to say how being viewed as less-than-perfect by Patti Elledge would feel to you. The vulnerability of nakedness is unbearable.
Gary: Yes. Vulnerability in exposing my naked, undefended self. On Ed’s massage table I had a horizontal experience of oneness with the table. This led to a deeper feeling on oneness – perhaps a vertical experience of oneness. Out of this deep sense of vertical oneness with the All came safety and bliss. But it all began with the horizontal experience in my body. Pat: You are speaking of the work of being human! There is no way around the raw terrifying place of opening to and trusting the other: I trusting you, and you trusting me. That is our respective opportunity: in one’s terror and nakedness, the choice to take the opportunity to trust.
Gary: On some level I did not trust Mom, Dad, or others in authority. Of course on some level I did – they fed me, clothed me, taught me, etc. But on a deeper level something in me did not trust them, did not trust that they knew about Life. From here I developed solitary capacities for survival – and came to have what is now called an Attachment Avoidance Disorder. Pat: You did not trust them in that place of really seeing you and holding you. You were not held. The mirroring that Sage and Anthony speak of did not happen. Gary: So there is a very deep and strong place in me – and in you – of NOT TRUSTING.
Pat: And regarding the vertical and horizontal trusting it is a both/and, not either/or. Gary: Yes, of course. I get triggered when you focus exclusively on the vertical and you get triggered when I focus exclusively on the horizontal.
Pat: Back to the question: “What is the interplay between you and me – in that tender vulnerable place of reaching out as one human being to another?” What stabilizes and supports that choice? What propels and motivates us to reach out to each other? How could we have the courage to do this without Spirit? Gary: Ego brings us to this point and then the ego lets go and lets God – the God within, our Divine Essence.
Pat: In Buddhism there are the Six Paramita – Sanskrit for “Gone to the other shore.” See Pema Chodron. This path of Six Paramit is a progressive path:
Gary: I relate and take joy in Generosity. For example, this week I’ve had such a wonderful experience in supporting the making of a video for the Founders Day Celebration at Sevenoaks on July 20. It has been a joy to do this. And in the process Tom dropped me an email saying simply, “You are such a mensch.” I had no idea what “mensch” meant and so looked it up: a mensch is a decent, upright, mature, and responsible person. I could smile at that. This experience brought me great joy all by itself, and then Tom took time to “see” me and mirror back what he saw. How beautiful! And I was so aware that this effortless effort on my part was free of any need to please others. It felt very pure and was “Oh so joyful.” Pat: We can all use a generous mensch or two in our lives!
Pat: So here is my question to sit with: “Can I venture to trust you, to ask you to hold me in my fear and worry?” Gary: This was not in our experience with Mom – hence we have attachment issues. This is why we, you and I, are here in this life, together – to come to that freedom of holding and being held. And it is not easy work to heal these splits between and within us. Takes compassion for ourselves and for each other.
Shared in love, Gary