November 8, 2013 · 5:42 pm
They say when you leave therapy, you start therapy. Soon after leaving therapy over a year ago, I started a new daily spiritual practice with a yogi, and was taught Hindu meditation, and also learned about energy located in the body-mind. Soon after this I felt drawn towards a local Thai buddhist temple, and began to practice traditional buddhist meditation, and studied the buddhist path or dharma. I felt that I had come home. The concepts of conditioning and attatchment in buddhist psychology were also fundamental in psychotherapy, inasmuch as they were basically saying the same thing. This new connection expanded on my ten years of psychotherapy practice as both are based on the natural law applied to the problem of human suffering. I was discovering more about my own path and a method or practice to bring me closer to my own reality and truth.
The next six months were spent meditating, studying and practising mindfulness and the buddhist path. Very quickly I noticed that I was happier, not indulging in short term pleasures, but longer term intentions of loving kindness towards myself and other beings. A light had been switched on inside me and I felt I had a life of purpose. Then, out of the blue and after 6 years of celibacy, I met someone – Or you could say our ego’s recognised each other. Immediately, we set sail on a passionate and lustful relationship which was exiting and fresh. Shortly after our relationship began, I attended a four day silent satsang with Mooji, and as if I was mean’t to hear it at that exact moment, he spoke about relationships and spirituality. I do not remember his exact words but he said something like; just as the true self begins to be recognised the ego embarks on a forceful attempt to sabotage this awareness by introducing it’s trump card – A relationship. Looking back my instinct was aware of this at the start of the relationship, but very subtly the ego managed to convince me otherwise, in a slow and subtle contamination of delusion in the mind.
Buddha said; Of all the worldly passions lust is the most intense. Our relationship was intense and tested both my partner and myself to breaking point. Vulnerability, power, dishonesty and continuous drama and reinnactments of past conditions, were draining us both of vital life energy, and sabotaging our personal inner peace and freedom. Both our wounds embound themselves in each other. Often I felt engulfed and trapped and I missed my precious inner connection that was seemingly fading out bit by bit like dying flames of a fire.
Intimate relationships can enable us to recognise and welcome the powerful opportunity to awaken to our deeper nature. They can bring us face to face with our gods and demons forging brutal honesty, awareness and equanimity. My relationship brought me to new crossroads where I faced a pivotal choice. Do I hold onto wishful fantasies and grasp outdated story lines, driven by my ego, or do I use the difficulties in my relationship to awaken compassion, wisdom and a dedication to inner truth. One cannot know this, one must be this and acknowledge this deeply within ones heart. Our on and off relationship was like a very long meditation, where I lost the connection with my breath – but now I have come back to it. Watching it slowly rise and fall. A chance to start again. The most powerful agent of growth and transformation is something much more basic than any technique: A change of heart. My heart grieves the loss of my true self and my ego grieves the loss of his mistress. From darkness into light, we behold the gift of peace.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves ~ R. M. Rilke
September 23, 2012 · 6:44 am
Two months ago I had my last session of psychotherapy. After 5 years of regular analysis there was a deep reluctance to let go and to move on. We had been through so much together. The last few sessions were both awkward and anxiety producing but an ever growing part of me was becoming aware of my desire to embrace my own personal inner calling. Although I had discovered so much about myself during analysis, I needed to emancipate myself from this mental duality with my therapist and work alone.
Going it alone reminded me of an experience I had when I was 12 years old. I was hiking on the moors with a boy scout group on a survival exercise. We were reaching the stage where a few of us would eventually have to depart from the leaders, and the rest of the pack, and camp on our own for 2 days and nights. I was both anxious and excited at the same time. As soon as we waved goodbye to the pack and went our own way, my eyes seemed to widen and I took on this new type of energy, I knew that I was solely responsible for myself and the other boys, and each step that I took after departing was mindful and steady as I realised that I had no-one to fall back on. I had a similar feeling after leaving analysis.
It is only you who can create awareness in yourself. A master, teacher or psychotherapist can help you to initiate the change you are seeking, but for genuine transformation, you must walk your own path. To start with we have to have enough of a ‘self’ to ‘help’, so initially walking our own path can be aided by a teacher of some kind. After therapy, I began to practice yoga and meditation once again. Almost every morning I would wake up and begin my practice without fail. I realised that my ego and my continuous self-talk, as well as a tendency to live in the past or future, were a evasive force and I needed to counter that peace breaker with something opposite, present and real. This daily practice also included mindfulness in many small ways. Many times during the day I would bring myself back to my breathing and the present moment. I knew that this was all I had to do and the future would work itself out. A new faith emerged from my practice and when I meditated I invited the dark thoughts and fears in to ask them what it is that I could do to to help.
An example of this practice happened when I was meditating about my son. I began psychotherapy after my son was born, and for the last 5 years I have been through a long and painful struggle in order to gain more access to him. I became aware while meditating that there was also a 5 year old boy in me that I needed contact with too. I spoke to that boy and asked him what I could do to help. He told me he had no-one to play with and that no-one cared for him so I held his hand and promised he would never be alone again. With this experience, I realised that I had a strong desire to save myself, in turn, by saving my son. My intention became clear after that, I knew what I had to do.
Only the moment you reject all help are you freed ~ Buddha
October 18, 2011 · 6:37 pm
My therapist, who I now like to call my ‘spiritual guide’, has an uncanny way of tuning in and summarising or pinpointing exactly where I am at, especially when I am trying to explain or describe a particularly new sensation that may be beyond words. He sensed today that I was ‘at home’ on the couch which is exactly how I felt. I was glued to the couch today, akin to the grounding one feels when meditating or in deep relaxation, my eyes were fixed on the white cotton clouds that I could see through the window for the entire time. Today’s session had no agenda, nothing specific was discussed or worked through, we simply took a leisurely stroll with our conversation among the many gaps of silence which were like long deep relaxing breaths. It produced a beautiful image in me of a Mother and baby relaxing together, where the baby is happily kicking it’s legs and doing it’s own thing, and the Mother is simply being and not interrupting the babies flow. I think I may have been influenced by Winnicott in this case.
This longing to ‘come home’ is what so many of us strive towards. However many of us feel ‘away from home’ much of the time. We are all searching for something that is already within us that has been lost somewhere along our paths. This does not mean that we all have the potential of continuously being at home, in some kind of enlightened state or ‘Ānanda’ as some Buddhists may call it. However enlightened one is, I believe that we all have certain tendencies developed in our past that tend to rear up over certain issues, which is why acceptance of who we truly are is essential. I often try to be a more spiritual and enlightened person but what is that exactly? It’s just and idea. All I am capable of is being aware when something uncomfortable arises and noticing it for what it is and staying with it rather than trying to fight it off. As soon as I engage my old stories and patterns of attachment to a particular way of feeling I land myself in trouble. ‘I should not feel like this’ or ‘why is this happening again’ only reinforce these old patterns, as well reinforcing my neurological pathways. An example of this is the morning my Father died. I remember, just after I received the news, I walked to the window and watched some kid’s playing happily outside and thought, how can they play joyfully when this is happening!
Developing your own style of daily practice is essential for healing. Tara Brach said on mindfulness, that for some suffering with trauma, practising mindfulness and breathing may cause a sense of suffocating. There are ways of practicing that may suit you better. For myself, yoga has been a wonderful practice but right now I am practising Chi-walking around nature, mixed with prayer and meditation, just because it feels right to me. I seemed to stumble upon this almost by accident and this is where I seek refuge at times when I feel exacerbated. This daily practice is slowly developing into something very lucid for me and helps me to be more centred and free when faced with uncomfortable emotions. It is one thing meditating and practicing and another thing to stay focused when faced with daily experiences that put you on the spot. As Jack Cornfield said ‘If you can always find contentment just where you are, you are probably a dog’. The idea of being a perfect spiritual human being can only lead to feelings of failure. It is though the unconscious knows this and almost sets you up to fail. There are plenty of other things outside daily orthodox practice that can help us like music, art or film which may give us a new sense of purpose and hope. We are individuals and we can engage in being compassionate to our own unique way of living, even if this is not how we planned it.
July 16, 2011 · 9:24 am
Silence is golden in the therapy chair that I have now moved back to. Far beyond the realms of any text book spouting analysis and theory, we sit in silence, engulfed by the nothingness of being. If pins did drop you would certainly be able to hear them dropping like fine rain in this open space. How can I explain how many times lately I have felt the ordinary things so deeply and shed tears “the silent language of grief.” How can I explain the moments of mindfulness having stared at a daisy like I have never seen one before, in awe of it’s transient beauty, the back of the flower just as beautiful as the front. The little moments, the little things, are not little. They are everything.
This is not therapy, this is far more than that word. It is a soulful fire and water life, shared with another human being, cloaked in 21st century attire. It is a meeting of tragedy, realisation, joyfulness and nothingness, and just like the weather, it is everything and nothing at the same time. Whatever it is, my physical body turns up to it twice a week, and often walks out from it swaying with dizziness. My Dad, my Son and my best friend are all losses and painful gains at the same time. The paradox and tragedy of death and life so much alive under the same fine umbrella that we collectively hold.
Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise ~ Surangama Sutra
Inspired by: Karin L Burke.
Filed under My Experiences On The Couch
Tagged as Awakening, Buddhism, couch, counselling, Intimacy, Mindfulness, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychology, psychotherapist, Psychotherapy