Being Whole — True compassion happens infrequently in our world, because of the downward pull toward security and safety — things valued by our tribes and cultures.
Let me start by restating what I’ve been writing about: there are levels of advancement through life, and each crossing into something new requires a bit, or a lot, of a push.
I described the crossover points as gates —
semi-elastic barriers to movement.
The first gate, (yellow) at the physical diaphragm, stands at the place where we move from physical, daily, security concerns, relationships, and self esteem material, into the heart.
You might think of true compassion as the strength to “stand with,” without interfering, while supporting.
As an illustration, I did my chaplaincy training at Sick Kids’ Hospital in Toronto, and “stood with” a couple whose child was brain-dead. I spent many hours with them, listening to their pain, and fantasies, and terror. They asked me to be there with them, as their daughter was unplugged from life support. Compassion was: 1) no platitudes, no dumb lines about “god’s will,” 2) simple presence, which looks like being solid, being ‘right there,’ and 3) making physical contact, and not flinching from the full extent of their grief. Compassion is “fully being with, without attempting to rescue.”
Compassion, however, is not the end of our the walk into wholeness, but rather the meeting-place of the physical and the cosmic. In Chinese medicine, it’s the meeting place of Earth and Heaven chi. It’s the balance point, and also is the midway point on the journey into full self-hood.
True compassion happens infrequently in our world, because of the downward pull toward security and safety — things valued by our tribes and cultures. This becomes clear as we meet with the resistance of the second gate (blue).
The second gate is at the shoulders and jaw.
This gate, when “locked,” blocks us from fully expressing who we are and what is up for us. I think of this as biting off the “words” of our essential nature, as we repress the compassionate and passionate expression of being. Additionally, this gate keeps us from perfecting our sense of intuition and insight, and blocks our imbibing in the “sea of chi” that surrounds us.
I can’t believe I have it in me…
The mechanism for this repression? The fear of being exposed.
Without flogging the horse, it’s powered by the weight of our earliest training – to fit in, to not make waves, to be a “good boy or good girl.” It’s fueled by, “What will the neighbours think?” It’s maintained by not wanting to look silly or stand out.
That’s the framework.
I was working with a client a few weeks ago, and she was expressing some anger over things happening in her family. We looped around that for a bit, and I decided to veer off. I said, “What was the last thing you did that was completely about your self-growth — that turned on your passion for life?” She grinned, and said, “Besides counselling and Bodywork?” I thanked her for the complement, and said, “Yeah, besides that.” She looked sad. “It’s been years. Maybe I should try to be that woman again.”
I replied, “There is no ‘should,’ and you can’t, because you are not her. However, starting now, you could choose to enact more and more of you, and do that until you die.”
This particular client has a habit of going home and doing what she says she’s going to do, (my definition of integrity, as opposed to talking a good show and then repeating the same old stuff…) so I’m looking forward to our next session.
The other thing she does is really let herself go during Bodywork—she makes noise and moves energy, and really digs deep.
Many of my clients won’t do that.
They resist feeling and expressing, because they were told, when they were kids, to keep the noise and emotions down. So, they grit their teeth, and barely make a peep. The tightness is across their jaws, and across their shoulders. Bodywork hurts, and I hear, in a normal voice, “Ow.”
If you’ve been reading my stuff for long, you know the import I give to Bodywork and to letting the sounds, the blocked stuff, out. The only way through the second gate is the actual expression of the “stuff” inside — and this requires “using your words,” acting with integrity (acting is the only way of showing who you are) and emphatically being willing to let sounds out.
“Coincidentally,” this week’s episode of Saving Grace (a great show that is totally about Grace finding her true nature — it also has the best theme song going…) featured Chakras. Grace spent some time with a Tantric expert, who encouraged her to work on “Chakras 2, 4, and 5.” That would be sexual, sensual and life passion (2), the compassionate heart (4), and full and authentic expression (5).
Just what we are talking about today.
The Tantra guy had what I would call a Bodywork room. It was soundproof — keeping outside sounds outside, and inside sounds contained in the room. He noted that “People are afraid of letting their sounds out, and this room is a safe container.”
The most impressive scene involved Grace and Bobby (another cop, who had been undercover, and was shut down from the nasty stuff he’d seen.) Grace took him to the room, and started pushing him (Compassion, chakra 4), hard, at his heart. She encouraged him to scream, to let it out. He did, (Expression, chakra 5) finally, and she held him as he collapsed in tears.
Powerful stuff, and exactly what this article is about. Coincidence? Perhaps.
I actually think that it is impossible to move through the gates we’re talking about without some form of regular Bodywork, and, of course, counselling. The habits of the past are so ingrained that metaphoric dynamite is necessary to break through.
Most people I see are grimly clamped down. Others have smiles on their faces, but the smile looks forced and a bit grim. They talk about feeling well, and getting their act together, but something rings hollow.
The problem is that they are trying to shift perspectives or paradigms, without rocking any boats
—they still want to fit in, while pussyfooting around. They learn to talk a good show—to be optimistic, and use positive language, but the sense I get is of a slightly recalcitrant child trying to do what they want without offending their parents.
I think of the kind of transformation I’m discussing here as a complete transformation of body, mind and spirit.
In a sense, it’s a leap. The odd thing I see is people trying to leap without letting go of “this side of the leap.” Or trying to leap with a backpack of things strapped on their backs—family rules, family members, old, mouldy beliefs, etc.
- Most don’t even try the leap—they just run at the gap and then fall down before they, well, fall down.
- Others plunge into the abyss, backpack tightly gripped.
- A few leap, and end up spread-eagled, with one foot on one side, one foot on the other. You know that one’s gotta hurt.
Getting to the other side requires the dropping of all of your pre-conceived notions.
You sort of land on the other side in a heap, and then have to make sense of the new terrain.
- On the other side, the old rules no longer apply.
- On the other side, there is freedom of self-expression. You choose how and what to do, based upon you and your skill set, as opposed to what others expect you to do.
- On the other side, the expectations of others seem to be exactly that- the expectations of others - and therefore their issue, not yours.
The leap is worth the effort, but it’s such an unknown quantity as to freeze most in place.
Yet, the passion and the fire that burns in your belly, even if you are unaware of it, is what the world needs and craves. And, it’s the only way to be yourself, as opposed to a caricature drawn by others.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to draw you another picture—of what life looks like, from a place of burning, passionate self-responsibility. In the mean time, if you have questions or comments about any of this, stick a comment on the BLOG!