It is the activity of compassion to get subtler and more nuanced with the way we tend to our experience, especially during times of emotional activation. Often, it can seem that we are attuned while in some ways we are orbiting around it. If we assume “oh yes, I know what this is,” we lose touch with the mysterious unknown of this moment's thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations, which have never until now made their way here.
If “sitting with” our experience is oriented in the (often subtle) agenda to change, shift, understand, or even “heal” it, it sets up a condition where we may not be able to get too close, as we can unknowingly reinforce earlier conclusions that certain experience is not okay, unsafe, or otherwise evidence that something is wrong with us. Further, if we practice certain forms of psychological or spiritual inquiry which consciously (or otherwise) pathologize or shame certain emotional experience, we only entrench ourselves deeper into unconscious shadowlands through further dissociation and subtle attacking of our own vulnerability.
At some point in our developmental history the conclusion that certain experience is unworkable was of course accurate, as staying embodied to these feelings was overwhelming, dysregulating, or it disrupted a tie with an early attachment figure, releasing unbearable anxiety that we did not have the capacity to metabolize. In response, we learned to dissociate/ immobilize, on the one hand or to mobilize/ spin into action (via sympathetic fight/ flight) as the best ways we knew to care for ourselves. This was not an expression of neurosis, pathology, or error, but one of intelligence and creativity.
The invitation is to honor these protective strategies as they saved our lives, if not physically, then certainly psychically. And to slowly begin to discover if we still require this same level of protection. To what degree are these strategies serving (or an obstacle to) our longing to feel open, alive, intimate, and connected with life?
And at the end of the day to return to the mystery of this human heart and open tender body and brain as we navigate the territory of love.
The next event is The Healing Shame Retreat: Spiritual Awakening and Transforming the Core Wound of Unworthiness, April 24-29, 2019 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with co-facilitator Jeff Foster