Monday, May 23, 2016

A cure through love

It was Freud, in a letter to Carl Jung, who said: “psychoanalysis in essence is a cure through love.” It hurts so much when those around us are suffering, but what can we do? How can we help? What is the most effective way to respond to their sadness, their anxiety, their grief, and their flatness? We hear that to truly love another is the most powerful form of healing, but what does this actually mean?

Listen carefully not only to the words they are saying, but to the secretlanguage that is emerging from their hearts, from their bodies, from their entire being. Make contact with the primordial longing in them to be met, to feel felt, to be heard, to be received, exactly as they are.

As you set aside your requirement that their experience shift, change, or transform according to the unmet ‘other’ within you, a field of permission opens, where their inner world can unfold and illuminate, without any pressure that they be someone other than they are in that moment. Join them in a raging sort of trust in the utter validity of their experience, no longer pathologizing the uninvited guests of grief, despair, hopelessness, and confusion.

When we are held in this way, our nervous systems down-regulate, our minds soften, our hearts open, and we come into an ancient sort of rest. While our true nature as pure, open awareness is the ultimate holding environment, as relational beings we are wired to rest within a relational matrix. To enter into this field with another – weaved and constructed by the alchemical substances of presence and of space – is one of the great secrets of the embodied world.

When we allow ourselves to become the vast space in which the other's experience can be exactly what it is – without any agenda that they see the world as we do or have only those feelings which we are comfortable with – we find ourselves in a crucible outside ordinary time and space. It is here where the wounds of the heart are metabolized and where previously unresolved psychic, emotional, and somatic tangles are unwound, illuminated, and reorganized by the fiery activity of love.

While we'll never know exactly what Freud meant in his letter to Jung, I like to think (fantasize?) that it was something along these lines.

Photo by James Estrin/ New York Times