Wayne C. Allen's "Works in Progress"
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Passionate Encounters Through Expression

As I noted, what follows is an expanded version of a letter I wrote to a "list" (at Haven) that I belong to. The topic began as a discussion about passion. There quickly developed two streams: those espousing the experience or expression of passion, and those wishing to 'define passion.' Having "had" an experience of expression, I wanted to share. Here's what I wrote:

The penultimate Western (ideologically, not geographically) obsession seems to be with "meaning making." I suspect this is a left-over from the 'ego project' -- the socialization and ego boundary building that is the basis of infancy, childhood and adolescence -- and its emphasis on objectification, naming, individuation and intellectualizing meanings. An Eastern approach, on the other hand, might be described as "simply noticing."

Now, I have a judgment that the ego project is supposed to be one stop along the way of a life long "train trip" (to steal Ben & Jock's train story from The New Manual for Life.) And what if the next step beyond the ego project is "letting go and simply noticing?"

To take this next step requires our willingness to "transcend and include" -- we bring our egos with us, along with our need to make meaning. In other words, we build upon the previous step as opposed to getting stuck there.

I've certainly noticed how often my discussion with clients turns to passion. Certainly it's an issue of some interest in counselling - and passion "shows up" regularly during Bodywork. I've begun to think of passion as being "sort of similar" to chi. The connection I make is that passion simply "is" -- it is therefore devoid of meaning, per se. Like chi.

I'm pretty good at meaning making, and yet it has never occurred to me to wonder what I "should" be "doing with," nor "what is the meaning of" my chi. The question I feel inside is, "is my chi blocked or flowing freely?" I ask the same question of my passion. To ask, "Whatever will I do with my passion, should I ever allow myself to release any blocks I have to it?" seems to me designed to keep me firmly in my head, and as far away from feeling my passion as is possible.

Passion, from a Bodywork perspective, resides in the pelvic, second chakra region, which corresponds to the Lower Dan Tien (the storehouse for chi) in Chinese theory. A major block for passion is at the diaphragm level, which corresponds to third chakra, (self esteem - big surprise, eh?) and perhaps to kidneys.

Again, in the Chinese system, kidneys are both "the feet that propel us forward" and the locus of fear. In the last two years I've been "doing" kidney stones. (Jock suggested "crystallized fear" as an exploration for me.) My life often feels like I've got one foot on the accelerator, one foot on the brake. My sense is that I am blocking chi in at least my kidney meridian, much as I block myself from total engagement with life, surely out of fear.

I'm trying to say that the free flow of passion is one piece, and the choice of expression, another. Thus, I concur with Ben Wong's comment that 

"passion is the pressure of the soul to be expressed."

One of the ways, in the past, I have "freed my passion" is through painting. This past Tuesday, I was sitting in my office, staring at a photo I like.  I became aware of an energy crawling up my spine, and began to imagine a painting. My head quickly dismissed this, as I "had no time" - much to do before heading off to Haven for 'Body, Breath' on Saturday.

I patted my little head, which was busy coming up with all kinds of reasons not to paint, went out into the garage, grabbed my easel and some masonite and 7 hours later had the painting almost finished. First "real" painting (as opposed to "touching up" old paintings) I'd done in a decade. I finished it the next night. (Picture to come -- I have to borrow a digital camera!)

Here's the interesting thing. I went up to my Northern counselling office Wednesday, and in between clients, began to feel a dull ache in my kidneys. 'Twas about a 4 on a 10 scale of Kidney Stone pain, but also different. I'm now thinking that the release of the block to the expression of my passion by choosing to paint was a jolt to the kidney blockage. Like when you exercise an ill-used muscle. I was a bit scared about finishing the painting, but the pain never amounted to more than a dull ache in the region of my kidneys, and I recognize that I am feeling "shifted."

To wrap this up, I'm suggesting that one goal of the ego project is to teach us to tighten up and behave. There is little tolerance for passion in our tribes. We learn socially acceptable releases - sports, sex, etc. - but are reluctant to really let go, for fear of "what happens next." Indeed, clients, upon feeling the chi and passion flow, (which is directly the result of the "letting go" of the tightness, accompanied by the release of emotions) will often exclaim, "This is terrific, but what do I do with it?"

My answer: "Be with it, and see what emerges." Sometimes a poem. Sometimes a painting. Sometimes a dance (Hey, Jock!!!) Elegant therapy. A warm embrace. A passionate encounter. Or a quiet moment as Amazing Grace plays and the sun sets.

I've lost my desire to know about passion.
It seems enough to simply be in its flow.

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