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A Shared Life of Wrestling, Growth, and Discovery

"Gary, What Do You Need?"

Tuesday, February 23

Though disturbed by Pat’s and my couple’s counseling session with Sage and Anthony yesterday, this morning I sat in the half-hour silence of our pre-sharing coffee time and realized that, considering my unsettledness, I had slept surprisingly soundly last night – for nearly nine hours. I also realized last night as I drifted off to sleep that although I was aware that I had been disturbed and somehow shaken on some level in the session, on another level I was able to observe this disturbance in me from a distance rather than be caught in it. Hence I got a restful night’s sleep after Monday’s session.

The first arising in the Tuesday morning silence time was a sense that something had happened in the Monday session that shifted me. And I realized that I could not truly express exactly what had shifted or how things now were different from before. I was in an “I’m OK” feeling space. I had the image of the rug being pulled out from under me in the session, and I sensed that the “rug” that was being pulled out from under me was the all-too-familiar rug of my need to be “special” in some worthwhile sense or framework. And now after the session, without being “special,” I realized I was still “OK.” Amazingly OK! It was like the proverbial thorn had been pulled out of my side – the thorn of having to be special in some meaningful way to feel OK in the world.

I realized that now, with the thorn of having to appear somehow special in a meaningful way removed, I was free to experience pleasure in life.  In some new way I had surrendered to Sage and Anthony – more Anthony I would say – and in the session I came to trust them on a deeper level. I am amazed that I am only now becoming aware of this shift of surrender and trust after nearly four years of working together!

Somehow my mind was now free to think what it thinks, and I can now take pleasure in what my mind thinks, no matter what it thinks, rather than always being anxious, on guard, and hesitant to express what it thinks. There was no longer the need for my mind to perform or to be correct in some absolute way in the eyes of some authority I had created for myself. I saw that my thinking is just a natural process that goes on in my psyche, as it does in all other psyches. Thinking is just a part of each of us humans, a beautiful part.

And my body and its sensations and feelings can be here as well – just as they are. I was reminded of Rumi in his, “Beyond our ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

From that place of “all here are welcome” I asked, “Gary, why do you blog?” The answer did not go to that habitual “self-judging negativity” or “pathological self-assessment” or other “lower-self aspects” of my being — like pride, self-centeredness or arrogance, but rather something deep inside said, “Gary, you blog because blogging brings you pleasure. Period. And it is the way you process, come to undersand, and honor what is alive and moving in you.” I could breathe into that positive and inspiring awareness as it imprinted my soul.

I realized that the content of the session with Sage and Anthony was not as important as the experience of the session.

So this is was what arose in me as we sat in silence before the fire. After this 30 minutes of silence, Pat began our sharing time. And after we spent time with her sharing, I shared the raw and somewhat disjointed pieces of what had arisen in me as spelled out above.

Pat: I am in wonder and awe of what has arisen in you as a result of the session. This is all in honor of humanity and in honor of the great workings of Life – and of the He/She who is Life. There is a sense of pleasure in humans when Life lives us. Even when life is hard, there is a Rightness in Life living us fully.

Gary: Wow! So well said! Let me now review the session as I remember it. At the beginning of the session Sage said that before the call Anthony and she had discussed the fact that I had sent them an email or two to which neither of them had replied. They wanted to know how I felt about their non-responsiveness. I had not really remembered what I had sent them but said that so much goes on between sessions that sometimes it is hard to know how to keep them up to speed. Maybe that was it – perhaps my emails were my need to keep them up to speed. And I was aware that I had sent several since the previous session. I was feeling on the spot and nervous under the spotlight.

Then Anthony said they were referring specifically to my questions about Pat Ogden and her book Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Attachment. I responded, “That Ogden book, oh yes, I remember that now. My question was about whether or not you two knew of Pat Ogden. Specifically, I wondered if you thought some type of Somatic Experiencing therapy would be helpful to me.”

At this point Anthony asked pointedly, “Gary, what do you need? Is there something you need from us that you are not getting, and is that what your email about Pat Ogden hinted at?” I hadn’t realized that I could have been looking for something, but now that Anthony mentioned it I shared that I wondered if I thought I needed help to get more in touch with my feelings. That in fact, is true, especially after reading Bessel van der Kolk’s book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.

Anthony said, “Gary, so let’s go there now!” And I was able and did!. At that point in the session feeling by feeling came up and was shared — my shame, my fear, and so on. So perhaps yes, I was looking for more help in getting in touch with my feelings, and I did not need Somatic Experiencing or some other therapy to do so. I now had experienced that all I needed related to feeling my feelings I could get from these sessions, provided I worked harder to go there with Sage and Anthony. It was great to realize all this, that indirectly I was looking for more help to feel my feelings and that they could lead me there safely.

After sharing feelings on a deeper level in the session, I began to feel noticeably safer to just be me. I could be open to who I am, the happy monk and the armchair philosopher. I began to feel pleasure in the skin of the happy monk and philosopher.

Then Anthony took me one step further, “Great! Now Gary, do not attach to any image of who Gary is – do not attach to monk or philosopher. Rather, just be, just be. Feel the pleasure of being alive.

I could feel the rightness and freedom of this de-labeling of who I am. And in some new way I could go where Anthony invited me to go. I did not have to feel comfortable with being a monk or a philosopher. Rather I could feel comfortable and even find pleasure in simply being alive!

Pat: That was beautiful to watch during the session. You were allowing new things to come forth from you. It was like time-lapse photography, watching a plant sprout, grow, and blossom in seconds and minutes rather than in hours and days. Sage and Anthony are great instruments of healing for us. The two of them with the two of us form a perfect configuration as they show us the way.

And your skillfulness to use words to express deeper things has taken a specific upturn. You are able to put into words some deeper Truth, to speak Truth – including the truth about your feelings.

Gary: I am eager to listen to this session!  Not for content but rather to feel and watch the shifting energies in us during the session.

As is our custom, we closed with the Adyashanti meditation, The Naked Simplicity of Being. As usual, words arose in me during Adya’s meditation, a mingling of his words with my own, words arising from my psyche: Just be. Let words bypass the censorship of the mind. The root of consciousness is the unconscious. Surrender to the silence, the unconscious intuition. Listen to what does not make a sound. Relinquish all defining characteristics – including monk and philosopher. Experience the real freedom of having no defining characteristics, no labels. Let the self be pulled into the depth of being. All need for self-definition falls away. The separating energy of self-definition blocks the spontaneous energy of life. Leave all knowledge and definitions behind. Enter Oneness. Freedom. Freedom from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Feel the naked simplicity of your True Being. Remember Pathwork Lecture 88 – Religion: True and False. Know that true religion is really freedom from all religion!

Shared in love, Gary

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Gary Vollbracht