How to Get Your Life Together — we endlessly divide ourselves — into acceptable / unacceptable, good / bad, and try to fix things, one at a time. Getting ourselves together means starting with acceptance of all that you are, and then integrating the diverse elements into a coherent whole.
The Moment is Rich and Full
A small diversion from the series, as we talk about being whole — integrating all aspects of self, through acceptance, Bodywork, and “just being.”
I know. Doesn’t seem so. You have specific complaints — about others, about situations you think are out of your control. You have body issues — pains, emotions, disturbances, numbness around passion.
It all seems so specific, externally caused, and so… ungraspable.
Being both a Western psychotherapist and an East-West Bodyworker, I have a more integrated view.
I do get where this viewpoint comes from. We’ve all been playing the “me / not me” game since infancy, and somehow it seems easier to disown responsibility for the life we are choosing to live — we move difficult aspects into the “See how hard I keep doing stuff to deal with this, and what I do doesn’t work! I’m stuck! ” camp.
A client, freshly out of her primary relationship, declared her relief – she’d finally ended a troubling relationship. She just couldn’t understand her persistent sadness — after all, she’d done what she wanted to do.
I suggested that beneath the sadness was full bore grief — that she needed to pass through the grief before she could move on.
She was dubious, but also open. We did Bodywork, and some of the painful stuff came up, and out. Tears, and a bit of anger. As time has gone by ( a few months) more and more is coming up. The more she releases the grief, the more passion and charge is emerging.
Today, she wrote,
“Last night, after yoga and a hut tub, I came home and sobbed and howled (triggered by an episode of Dr. Who of all things!) and did so because I felt how broken my heart still is. I felt it and breathed and felt centred after…still some tears flowing today. Feels right to open up to it — not so scary now.”
The Buddha pointed to our attraction to charge and repulsion as regards pain. He called it grasping — wanting more pleasure, while thinking “I shouldn’t have pain.” Nothing much has changed. The first place to look is what you are denying, pushing away, or avoiding.
Examples: Men, these days, resist their strength for fear of seeming macho, and women resist their passion for fear of seeming weak.
The reality is that strength is not oppressive, and passion is not weakness.
We are who we are in our totality. Full bore living is about letting go by coming into acceptance, then learning to make elegant choices from a place of wholeness.
You get nowhere trying to deny aspects of yourself. Fragmentation, leads to… fragmentation
Many “spiritual” people, for example, have their heads in a cloud, (they resist grounded passion…) and think the goal is calm, quiet, half-smiling wimpiness. I love Zen because this so DOESN’T describe the famous teachers, who were quite nuts, fully grounded, yet “out there.”
Lest you think I’m advocating “Doing whatever you feel like,” I’m not. I’m advocating feeling your feelings, while using your mind to structure fully expressing them. I’m advocating embracing the things you fear, and finding ways to express them. I’m advocating letting go of the tightness, the rigidity of thought and behaviour, and diving naked into the sea of life.
Darbella and I just had a great weekend with a client who came to Waterloo for a Weekend Residential. Over lunch, we talked about Yin and Yang, and how balancing these energy aspects is necessary for living a deep and meaningful life. Yin / Yang (and Chakras, and Acupressure, and Bodywork,) are ancient metaphors — they work for me when describing how “balanced living” actually works.
The Basics of Yin and Yang
I mention this stuff all the time, and forget that you might not have a handle on it. So, briefly, the Taoists believe that The Tao is like a two-sided coin. Tao (life force, energy, Ki, Qi, prana, etc.) seeks balance, always. Just like water, which always is level, no matter what kind of container you put it in. Fluidity is “flowing into balance.”
Because we’re born male / female, we are born off-balance, either a little or a lot — then, we’re socialized into even more of a box. Life at its best (and the work Dar and I do) might be seen as a balance-restoration act.
front of body
back of body
There are a ton more.
You can see from the list that (once you get past “right / wrong” thinking — which is “better”, etc.) being able to access both elements of each pair might just be a quite balanced state. Fluidity means that life is more interesting — you pick and choose from a menu of options rather than just repeating what’s either comfortable or familiar.
A fragment of my story, the Haven, engaged passion
When I first went to The Haven (if you’re unfamiliar, The Haven is a personal development centre located in British Columbia — we highly recommend it!) in 1996, I did Phase 1, (25 days) and a big learning was this:
My issue was that I’d spent 45 years out of balance — experimenting with the extremes of yin and yang, and it had cost me dearly.
I’d spent the first 31 years of my life feeding the yang side of my “self.” I was aggressive, righteous, and quite critical. In 1982, while in my second year of therapist training, I started a “yin project.” I felt the imbalance, and decided to work on the other side.
The yin project involved pulling my aggress-energy way back, and working on my more gentle, intuition-based yin side. In a sense, I had to over-compensate, in order to fully learn to integrate my yin side.
Picture a pendulum swing — 31 years way over to the right, then 13 years way over to the left.
Prior to going to Haven, I had a physical breakdown. I’d forgotten how to stand forth and had been doing stuff that no longer served. (I wrote about all of this in my book, This Endless Moment.)
We did Shadow (Jungian) work at Phase 1, and, long story short, I had a visualization of being handed a katana (sword) and hearing, “You can kill, or you can heal.” A sword is phallic-yang, and killing and healing are both yang — just different degrees. After 13 years of the “Yin project,” I was telling myself to bring the yang energy back on line, and combine the two.
My therapy style, since then, has been a more or less balanced amalgam of dialogue (yin) and Bodywork (yang.) My daily living is also balanced; I only get into trouble if I get too far into my head (yang) or emotions (yin,) and sit there, feeling sorry for myself. When I am aware of both, and “swimming” with both, mostly life and I are dancing.
Bodywork, charge, passion, productivity
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m seeing more and more people who are determined to integrate their “sides.” I’d say almost all of the people I’m working with are exploring sexuality, relationships, passion, and careers. (The latter is all about finding the path that will bring the most passion / satisfaction.)
To Western minds, these things are separate. To Eastern minds, they are the same.
Sexuality is a good place to begin — in the West, most folk are conflicted. Having sex is often confused with being in love. Issues around sexuality (what, with which, and to whom,) performance, etc. take on mythic proportions. Western minds, when they stop being embarrassed, look for techniques, and miss the intimate connection between passion and sexuality.
The belly (sexuality) and butt (passion for life) are home to both
At our cores we are all wholeness seekers. Wholeness requires a letting go. This is key. It’s all about getting in touch with the power of our emotions and urges, and rather than resisting, or shoving it all into one means of expression. It’s working with the heat of our charge and our passion — in other words, being as turned on by what we are doing in the world as we are when “caught in the throes of sexual charge.”
Passion is as passion does
Bodywork directed at balancing this flow of energy takes time to be absorbed.
- Initially, what might first arise is a lessening of physical pain (the body can let go of trying to get noticed.)
- Then, there’s this sense of “blockage,” usually at the stomach / diaphragm, and another at the throat.
- As the Bodywork proceeds, the resistances begin to melt, and a sense of “flow” is felt. Charge arises in tandem with passion, and our conditioning means that the charge can seem overwhelming, or scary, and often leads to “trying to shut the barn door after the horse has escaped.”
- Breathing into the charge (accepting and welcoming it) leads to heightened creativity and passion.
With courage, the work continues
Letting go has to do with feeling the energetic rush (the charge,) and combining it with passion for life lived in all realms.
In other words, charge and passion are no longer seen as separate from day-to-day living. The body is shaking, flow‑y, charged and energetic. Lots of movement, sound, — “My god, I’ve never felt energy in my (arms, legs, belly, chest, genitals,) to compare with this!”
Not the point, though (although it’s fun!)
The point is breathing into this flow, fully and deeply, and then letting the passion well up, hit your heart, and be used in the world
We then learn to ALSO choose what to do with energy in a particular situation, or with this or that person. My sense is that the people I work with are at a crossroads, and it’s all about integrating who they are, what their gifts are, and who they want to be intimate with, into a coherent whole.
Rather than “My job here, relationships there, spirituality over to the side,” it’s having all of the pieces of life fit together. So, sometimes old jobs must be let go of, relationships that no longer serve need disengaging from, new relationships form, and any remaining blocked experiences are engaged with fully and deeply.
The body is a metaphor for this: (using Chakra points as a metaphor)
The mind is at peace, easily connected to life, and engaged in finding the resources for each step.
The third eye is open and aware, seeing self and life clearly.
The throat is open and accepting of the release of (the letting go of) passion into the world.
The heart is filled with compassion for self and others.
The solar plexus has incorporated everything — the person’s self-picture is complete instead of fragmented, and everything is a part of this picture.
The belly and butt are filled with heat, fire, passion, and engaged sexuality and sensuality. Decisions are not made on the basis of charge — they’re made to further integration.
And the legs and root Chakra are firmly attached to the earth — the person can literally “feel” the pull of the gravity of any situation, is not blown off course, and is steady and balanced.
If all of this sounds like something you’d like to explore, and you’re able to come here, do so! If you have question, and are at a distance, please e‑mail us, and we’ll get back to you with specific suggestions. If you’d like me to write about more of this, let me know.
And especially, if you’ve been working with us, and you want to share a story or two about how this work is impacting your life, your passion, and your energy, send me a story, and I’ll add it to The Pathless Path.