Intimacy as a Way Inside
"Enlightenment must be lived here and now through this very body or else it is not genuine. In this body and mind we find the cause of suffering and the end of suffering. For awakening to be an opening into freedom in this very life, the body must be its ground."
After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, Jack Kornfield, p. 178
(This is an essential book!)
So, I really still amaze myself with the reluctance most Westerners have to being fully in their bodies -- there to, in a sense -- simply listen to the wisdom of their bodies.
I received a quite "classical" training in psychotherapy. I did academic courses for two years, and was also an Intern, for two years, at a counselling centre. There, the techniques of counselling were taught; there, I earned my spurs working with clients, using the techniques I had learned (sometimes learned that very morning ... )
I remember a week long training in "Bioenergetics," a style of counselling developed by Alexander Lowen and built upon the work of Wilhelm Reich. We breathed, a lot, and we stretched, and tried various postures to get our bodies to shake. I can clearly remember doing the stuff under protest -- I could make neither heads nor tails of the whole process. No, I "knew" that the key to unlocking the knots of despair that my clients were feeling lay in helping them to understand their minds. I got my Masters' degree, back in '83, and started talking. What was happening at the bodily - feeling level was the last thing on my mind. literally and figuratively.
Back in '96, when I was still in the church, my body gave up on me. And for good reason. My approach was, and to some extent continues to be, quite Western. (By the bye, Western and Eastern are not geographical but ideological.) I would work and work and work, then get the flu or something and have to stop. I'd go for acupuncture and herbs, get strong, and start working again.
This time, I had never fully recovered from the extra "stuff" I'd set up for Advent and Christmas. I set up a huge amount of extra activities for Lent, increased my client load at my counselling centre, and made it to the morning of Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
I woke up in a black, dark fog, and my body would barely support me. I announced that evening that I was putting all the extras on hold. I needed a break. Indeed, I was close. I was actually broken.
I went in to see Gloria Taylor, my therapist, the next day. She did her magic (actually, I did my magic in her presence), I recovered my strength, and she suggested that I go off to Haven to do Phase 1 that July.
Imagine my chagrin, entering into the Phase, and being "invited" to lie down and breathe. To do Bioenergetic-like stretches. And, horrors, to receive Bodywork. I "knew" nothing would emerge from my body. Right.
Two thumbs, elegantly and deeply applied, and I was deep into my body, screaming, "What about me?" My body shifted, dragging my mind, kicking and screaming, with it. My mind was initially embarrassed about my body's deep feelings, then resigned, then interested, then ecstatic. I've "stuck" at ecstatic.
My body and language shifted so much that I was "exited" from the Church within 6 weeks of returning from Phase. Best thing that ever happened -- I suspect that a Minister who was in his body was pretty scary for a lot of people.
At the same time, (mostly because of my abrupt departure) I was back with Gloria. She provided me with the final piece. As I tried to figure out what was up, she suggested I take 6 months and simply say, "I don't know." Hardest thing I ever did, and the most rewarding. I can cheerfully say, 4 years later, "I still don't know." I am, however, excruciatingly aware of my thoughts, feelings, energy and the movement of my Spirit.
Clients want explanations for everything. "Why do I feel this?" "What does this mean?" Initially, they are taken aback by my disinterest in their "head" questions. Instead, I wonder what they are feeling. I wonder what needs "out" of their bodies. I wonder who is buried in there, under the surface, dying to emerge. I wonder, in short, if they are courageous enough to enter into themselves fully, as opposed to stopping at their heads.
I'm also curious about their sensual and erotic potential. I wonder how freely they give themselves over to the ecstasy that is a part of our nature. I wonder, often, about their willingness to feel the depths of their pain, so that they will also be able to feel the heights of their passion. How scared of their power, passion and energy are they? What would it be like for them to enter into a world that is alive and filled with feeling? Will they "go there?"
Ultimately, there is a choice to be made here. The choice is to abandon knowing anything for understanding everything. It's letting go of the need to be right, replacing that with the need to simply be. Or as the mystic Jesus once said, "Who, by worrying, can add one hour to their lives?"
This new series of articles is an invitation into the depths of you. We'll also be looking at ways of calming and appreciating the "little voices" nattering in our heads. We'll look at being whole -- feeling, reflecting, acting, changing as the world about us changes, as we ourselves change.
An interesting walk, for the courageous explorer. Welcome aboard.