What Does My Psyche Need In THIS Moment?
Pause and Consider: What Does My Psyche Need In THIS Moment?
As I began my meditation I reflected on my mood this morning. What is my mood? Words like sluggish come up, as well as bland, flat, boring.
Then there was a burst of light. In the past few days I’ve had a new awareness about my flower photos. I’ve printed six or seven of my new spring flower photos and they are now part of the clutter on my bookcase shelving, not at all appropriately mounted or displayed, but visible nonetheless. For some reason I glanced at them in passing and suddenly noticed that I was seeing them in a new way. They were inspiring me, nourishing my Soul, my psyche. They were enlivening me in a new way. Just being in their presence lifted my spirits. This had nothing to do with their being “great shots” or “technically professional.” No, they struck me as art, art in the sense that they moved and nourished my Soul. I realized that this was a new experience in a way that I am not fully understanding, but thoroughly enjoying. I feel motivated to display them in some way that they can regularly nurture my Soul. Not to show off to others, but rather to be a component of my home that I have created to feed and nurture my psyche. Yes, consciously creating sacred space in Pat’s and my home so that our home nourishes my psyche and Soul.
So what does nurture my psyche? What does the word nurture mean on a Soul level? I think I can detect its effects on me (my response to my flower photos, for example), feel the experience that it lifts my spirits in some way, but I am not sure of the process or mechanisms involved in this nurturing and enlivening. Perhaps I have not been using the arts or even Nature on a felt sense basis of being nurtured and fed. This new awareness now offers me the insight that perhaps my psyche needs me to slow down and simply take in: Art, Nature, Music, Dance, People – all that Life offers, including photos of flowers that I have taken this spring.
Focusing Statement: Pathwork Lecture 131 Interaction Between Expression and Impression: ¶25-27:
The lectures — all the material and help given to you on this path — only serve as you freely take one aspect at a time of the teachings, appropriate for you at a particular moment. In other words, my friends, there is a tremendous difference between trying to use these words at the moment — following through and listening into yourself, freely allowing for what may come up — and recognizing that the evolving material fits into this or that lecture or statement of the teachings. This is a very opposite approach. Too often, in a subtle and unrecognized way, you try to find and squeeze yourself into the tools given you, rather than locate your inner material first and choose the tool afterward. The latter approach will make you free, while the former continues to bind you. Only the authority has changed, not you and your attitudes. This becomes even more confusing because everything you learn and hear points to liberation and selfhood and self–responsibility. Therefore it is easy to overlook the subtle bondage of squeezing your soul movements into patterns and stages of this work rather than letting them out and then seeing the stages into which they fit. In order to do that, you have to have the courage to ask: “Am I now more in need of emptying out because heaviness and depression indicate that I ignore what really bothers me, or do I need to instruct myself?”
Instruction may also be necessary when it is important to empty out, but its character is completely different. Impressing the need for expressing — for facing what dwells inside, for overcoming resistance and the unreal fear to do so — means using impression in order to be more capable of expression. When you have sufficiently expressed what is inside, the nature of impression becomes that of stating the truthful concept as opposed to the false one.
To recapitulate: impressing has two distinct facets. One helps to overcome resistance to expressing. The other reorients and rebuilds the inner personality by deliberate formulation and profound understanding of truth, as opposed to untruth.
I am struck by the two-fold nature of impressing, and I enhance my expressing/impressing chart accordingly, adding a step 7 that begins a round of impressing on a level different from that of level 1. Step 1 of Level 1 inspires and encourages me to dare to express my untruth so that I can empty it out and then come to Step 7, the Level 2 round of impressing where I begin the process of filling the now-empty vessel with Truth, thereby reorienting and rebuilding my inner personality: (click here to open full-size version)
These paragraphs from Lecture 131 underscore my previous blog entry as related to teaching Pathwork: always begin with the student’s needs, helping the student fully understand the needs of his or her psyche, and then and then only, as a skillful surgeon, select the correct Pathwork tools (teaching, practice, etc.) that will help enable the student to work with the needs of his or her psyche.
So what are the needs of my psyche – in this moment, in this day? What Pathwork tools do I need right now? Not a trivial question. I remember the Sun of Truth behind the dark clouds of untruth. I realize that in Truth I have Happiness, Joy, Peace, Love, and Wisdom. So this Pathwork tool, this teaching about the Sun of Happiness ever present behind the clouds of despair, inspires me onward and gives me the courage to look more at the untruths that my psyche holds onto, the untruths that give rise to my “heaviness and depression that indicate that I ignore what really bothers me.”
So what am I ignoring that really bothers me? Right NOW? I would say that I ignore what my psyche really needs! And let me quiet down and see what my psyche does need more of right now, in this day. The words that float up are, not surprisingly, related to nourishment: friendship, movement, the arts – including my own in flower photography, inspiration as that which I am getting in my morning meditation and time with Pat, and self-expression – physical emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. This latter, self-expression, includes sexual expression. So let me be with this awareness and be intentful in nourishing my psyche in this moment, in this day!
Pat: You would have loved hearing the teaching of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche on the value of spontaneity – speaking about how our lives are so planned out. Gary: And if they are not, we jump in and plan them – as tightly as we can at times. And you are right – I love any teaching on the value of spontaneity.
I then turned to sharing my morning meditation. Gary: I noticed in my meditation that I do not take advantage of our amazing culture – reading a good book for the sheer enjoyment of it, savoring a poem, taking in a piece of art, especially noticing I have not been taking in my own art with the flower photography, the ballet, the symphony, bluegrass music, etc. Pat: I get it. Yes, in our culture we are so free and have such richness all around us. We are not “on survival mode” – in our culture we are blessed with art, music, architecture, and the like.
Gary: Our psyches need to bathe in this cultural richness. Pat: We hardly are aware of our psyche’s need, that moment calling for spontaneity and engagement with all that is around us. We seem not to be able to be spontaneous. Gary: Perhaps what our psyches need most are some unplanned spontaneous arisings – freedom for such spontaneity. Some of us have such a propensity for planning, the opposite of spontaneity – planning which seems to come from an addiction to productivity. Pat: and addiction to control, and safety and certainty. Of course these are all illusory. Gary: More of our straightjacket existence. We somehow feel more comfortable in our straightjackets! Why is that?
Pat: In India there are Siddhis. These people own little to nothing. To outsiders they are useless folk. They have no idea or concern about the day after tomorrow. They see it as confusing, even ridiculous, to even think about the day after tomorrow. Their lives are just attuned to the arising in each moment. This is in contrast to our addiction to usefulness. We cannot tolerate feeling useless. So of course we plan – planning makes us think we know something. It is hard to face the fact that we do not know, that we can’t know, that true knowing is beyond our capacity as human beings. We are addicted to knowing and can’t stand our plight of not knowing. Gary: How true. Many of my sessions with Ed Gutfreund have been about my need to really know – to know things that in fact I cannot know. I struggle with being merely human! Of course this is struggling against what is, and hence is an unnecessary struggle – one of those non-problem problems.
Our conversation turned to friends we had over last week – Robert and Pamela. Pat has been in contact with Pamela, and we want to nurture a couple-to-couple friendship with them. Gary: Now Robert I see as cultured, an epicurean even, but not just with food, with life itself. He savors the full palette of life’s offering: good food, good literature, good music, Nature, health, good movies, good friendships, and the like. Pat: Yes indeed. He lives life fully and deeply. He is a pretty unique individual. Gary: All of this nurtures his Soul. And he prioritizes the nurturing of his Soul or psyche. Pat: Yes indeed. I enjoy his company for this reason. And this is what you and I have been talking about this morning – living more fully into the cultural richness that surrounds us. Gary: Stuart is another person like this, as is my Pathwork friend Kent. These folks thrive on LIFE.
Pat: Of course they have their demons too, and suffer in great ways, just like the rest of us. But you and I long to have this voracious appetite for LIFE – something in the life-streams that they are – giving rise to creativity, deep appreciation for the arisings of life. Entheos – the root of enthusiasm. It is contagious.
Gary: I notice that their energy is almost too much for me to be around at times. I can feel intimidated rather than simply appreciate and enjoy their great capacity for LIFE. Pat: I notice in this that we are moving toward more openness to socialization with friends. We can join other couples and take in things that mutually feed our respective psyches.
Gary: Where does church fit into all this? For so long we were active in church. How did that nurture and feed our psyches? Did it? If it did, could it do this again? I don’t think I allowed it much earlier, even though I was so active. All too often my church-going was simply habit for me. I would not surrender to the experience of church – the singing of hymns, the organ, the fellowship, the bible study sharing, the sermons, the familiar liturgy. Oh I attended, but I did not surrender to the experience. How does church work to feed the psyche what it needs? Pat: And we both have friends and family for whom church hugely nurtures their psyches today. But that was then, and this is now – we do not seem to be on that church page, at least not today. Gary: And I imagine that we, like our current church-going friends, would have said that church-going did nurture our psyches and Souls as well way back then.
Gary: Strangely, of late I am noticing a deepening of my connections with others. I have more openness. I am not so fearful. I can more fully take in and appreciate the other. This is a new opening for me. It even happened with a person, a near stranger, I met with at the University of Cincinnati on Friday, when he and I met, along with my brother. Somehow I was just able to connect with him, human being to human being. I could appreciate him without having to compete with him. This allowed for a sense of connection that felt somehow new and unfamiliar to me. Pat: We are finding our way, we are growing and learning.
Pat: May we, may our lives, be a blessing to others. Gary: And may we allow ourselves to be blessed by others – something that seems strangely hard for us, even with each other.
Shared in love, Gary