In a moment of emotional activation, when we get hooked into those all-too-familiar patterns of shame, unworthiness, rage, and fear, attacking ourselves, and falling into trance… two ancient pathways appear.
The first is to move away as quickly as possible, to repress or dissociate from what has come, to place it outside awareness so as to not be overwhelmed. To flee from our bodies, to abandon the life surging within us, and do whatever we can to stay out of the underlying vulnerability.
The second is to become flooded by the material, to drown in it, and to become fused with it and lose perspective. It literally takes our breath from us, our life force, and our capacity to be present. There is no longer any space in which to navigate. We become one with the limiting beliefs and the painful feelings.
These pathways are not neurotic or pathological, some reflection of our own failure or inner wretchedness, but adaptive strategies which arose intelligently to protect a developing little nervous system. They were the best way we knew to care for ourselves and prevent unbearable feeling.
To begin to slow down and see the operation of these strategies is a gift of self-kindness and true care for ourselves and this world. In a moment of activation to flood our experience with curiosity, presence, and warmth, and just see how it is we are habituated to seek relief through the abandonment of ourselves. To cleanse our perception and from this more grounded and present place, then decide if we want to choose something different this time. No shame, no blame, no self-attack, just curiosity. And care. And kindness.
To explore that very shaky, contradictory, hot, sticky, pregnant alchemical middle territory, which can appear quite groundless and disorienting until we get used to it. To practice intimacy with our thoughts, emotions, and sensations, while not becoming enmeshed in them. Intimacy without fusion. Close, but not so close we fall in.
While it may seem like moving a mountain, we can encode new circuitry, both in these miracle brains as well as into the collective, into the psyche of the culture. It is an offering that each of us can make, as a practice that we can do, not by way of some fantasy of perfection.
This is an art that we can bring into this crazy world, which seems to need this sort of magic now more than ever.
The Path is Everywhere: A Weekend Intensive, June 15-18 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO