While there is a part of us that very genuinely wishes to heal, awaken, and transform conditioned ways of seeing, there is often a lesser known part that has an unconscious investment in maintaining things the way they are. We wonder why after years and even decades of working on ourselves, meditating, praying, surrendering, doing yoga, and going to therapy it can seem like nothing is changing.
Our avoidant strategies – those historically configured ways of organizing our experience and disconnecting from feeling, vulnerability, and the creative (at times disturbing) aliveness of pure immediacy – arose to serve a very specific function, to protect us from overwhelming anxiety that threatened the survival of a ripening little brain and nervous system.
This dissociative activity was not neurotic, but was intelligent, creative, and skillful given the capacities we had at the time. The ability to split-off from unbearable experience saved our lives. But many are discovering that these same strategies are no longer serving a life of aliveness, intimacy, and connection.
Before attempting to dismantle the protective strategies (which is often a re-enactment of earlier self-aggression), we must face the actual implications of what it would really mean to transform and heal. To slow down and really allow these in.
The implications are revolutionary and will change everything as we will no longer be able to take refuge in the often subtle and unconscious trances of inflation and unworthiness. While the prospect of this may seem thrilling, this sort of essence-reorganization opens the doorway to reunion with the lost abandoned ones of the psyche and soma, with that survival-level anxiety that our defensive organization has successful kept us away from for so long. Hmmmm.
While this doesn’t sound all that fun, we sense that true healing is not possible without embodiment to our vulnerability, without offering a sanctuary for all that we have disowned and disavowed at an earlier time. There is no awakening without a compassionate and provocative confrontation with the activity of dissociation in all its forms, including the ways we use spiritual practices and beliefs to re-enact early strategies of self-abandonment.
It really is a conundrum, this being human: we want to heal but we don’t want to be too vulnerable, to take too much risk, to turn back into that anxiety, shakiness, tenderness, and raw unguarded life that is our true nature.
As you become more and more aware of how all of this plays out in specific ways in your own life and relationships, the invitation is to honor the sacredness and intelligence of the conundrum. It is not some mistake or cosmic error, but the activity of love itself, taking form as paradox, contradiction, and a fiery sort of wisdom, placed inside you as a gift and benediction, the prima materia you have to work with on the path of the heart.
My new book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is now available
The next event, The Magic of Being Fully Human, to be held in Ojai, CA on October 14-15.