A Reason for Being
Back in the early days of Into the Centre I used the following quote as the basis for an article:
The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice.
And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice,
there is little we can do to change.
Until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
The person who introduced me to this quote attributed it to R.D. Laing. I later purchased this book and couldn't find the quote there. I'll see if the web will help, but in the mean time, I really like this quote. In fact, reminding myself of the "truth" of this quote is key for staying on track with my life.
I was beginning Bodywork with a client last night. I mentioned her last week – she's the client with the "tight" upper back. And no, I still don't know what she's "doing" with her pelvis. Anyway, she's a nurse, and I'd mentioned to her a few weeks earlier that I was going to The Clinic for Optimal Health in Toronto for a hormone assessment, as I mentioned in Into the Centre a few weeks ago – the andropause thing. As I suspected, by the bye, all of my tests came back well within the normal range (as people around the world say, "Yeah, right.") I've been kidding (sort of) by saying, "I wish something would have turned up to explain my tiredness."
Anyway, the Doctor at the clinic had speculated, prior to getting the test results back, that my thyroid function might be off. He was so sure that he almost prescribed something. My actual results simply point to something being a little odd (as people around the world say, "That fits…") He decided to give me a thyroid topical cream, thinking that giving my thyroid a two month rest might be beneficial. One week in, I do feel a bit more energetic. We shall see.
Anyway, my client said, "Shouldn't you be able to "fix" that with Chinese medicine or Bodywork?" I stopped for a moment and thought about that. The Triple Heater meridian is sort of an "endocrine meridian," and I'm sure something might be available there, and over the years nothing about my thyroid had ever been said by a Chinese doctor. In a sense, my client's question was really, "How come you're using Western medicine? Isn't that a betrayal of your belief system?"
I realized this as I was thinking about writing Into the Centre this morning.
And then, I looked up, and on my wall was the "fail to notice" poster.
So, here's what I think. All of us have blinders on. As we've endlessly discussed, we've been conditioned by our society to do certain things, think certain things and take certain approaches when dealing with our issues and problems.
The "fail to notice" part is our unconscious resistance to that which is outside of our "comfort box." So, if we are used to a Western medical approach, we will have a "blind spot" to alternatives. On the other hand, as my client demonstrated, it would be equally "blind" for me to only consider and use "Eastern" approaches.
I remember writing a couple of years ago about a client who came in to have her "affirmations" fixed. She wanted to have an affair with her carpenter, and wanted her husband and kids not only to be OK with this, but to actively help her make it perfect. She had been to a ton of "New Age" crap-filled seminars, and thought that, with just the right affirmation, she could have what she wanted. She "failed to notice" that her family was thinking something else entirely, and that "something" could break her family apart. In other words, she could have her carpenter (literally and figuratively) or she could have her family. She'd have to choose. And choice meant giving something up. That was outside her box.
I don't think I'd be overstating the case to say, any time I have a "problem," it's because I'm failing to notice something.
As I do Bodywork, I'm not thinking, "This is the be-all and end-all of life." I understand that reading how someone carries stress and blockages in their body indicates their "life-story" – it shows what they do to themselves. Bodywork is an indicator, and a powerful one. It is one way of looking at the BodyMindSpirit – it is just not the only way.
It's like that Indian story of the group of blind men who happen upon an elephant. The guy holding the trunk says, "An elephant is like a hose." The man holding the tail says, "It's like a rope." The man at the side says, "It's like a wall." The man holding the leg says, "It's like a tree trunk." All are right, and all, like us, "fail to notice" that which is just beyond their reach. We are, in that, as blind and the blind.
Which is why, I guess, I combine so many things into the work I do. I explore philosophy, and I explore tribal conditioning. I explore how my clients communicate, and explore what they are not saying. I consider their sexuality and their comfort with their bodies. I watch them breathe, and often use Bodywork and energy flow corrections as a means to access deeper levels of their being. Lately, I have been identifying alternative Western medical approaches, and sending clients off on medical quests. I encourage clients to find ways to physically express their emotions, rather than following the typical approach of stuffing them. More often than not, I am teaching rather than counselling. And decidedly, I'm asking myself, "What, given my own blind spots (my "failing to notice,") am I missing? What more can I discover?"
I've quoted from the work of Stewart Wilde, who repeatedly says,
"The way it is, is the way it is."
To which I add,
"And the way it is, is often not as it first appears."
"The way it is, is the way it is" is a gentle, non-attached position, taken from Taoism. It is not, "I am right about the way it is." I've seen far too many people who, in their ego-driven entitlement, have a world-view that they think is right – that contains all the answers. They, like the men in Plato's cave, confuse shadows with "reality."
"Reality," is seems to me, is fluid and dynamic and always includes more than is immediately apparent. If, for example, I think that my partner is the cause of our marital discord, I "fail to notice" my role in creating and sustaining the discord. If I believe that my upbringing predisposes me to sabotage myself, and therefore I am condemned to repeat past blunders, I "fail to notice" that I am never without choice.
The world, and any situation, any thing and any one within it, is always wider and more complex than it first appears. Always.
To be free is to take chances, raise the bar and step outside of the box of comfort and "knowing." Or, you can choose to stay stuck in your beliefs.
Because it's never about what you know. It's always about what you fail to notice.