October 2, 2011 · 11:56 am
Most of us that are on a spiritual journey, who are attempting to get some understanding of ourselves and be more in harmony with our true nature, battle with patience. It takes time to create new patterns of behaviour and thought and to accept and understand those old patterns that we have lived with for so long. Although there are people who claim sudden enlightenment, the majority of people will have to partake in long and often-times painstaking journey’s, where they may have to repeat the same mistakes over and over again until they learn and accept the lessons or truths that they need to. We need to take this long term relationship with ourselves slowly and steadily, and realise that in as much as we have taken years to mis-understand ourselves, it may take the same amount of time to get in touch with our true nature and purpose once again. You can liken this process to learning to play a musical instrument. We can’t play it harmoniously straight away, it’s virtually impossible. We have to learn to play the notes first and then perhaps a chord, then a song, and eventually we can play intuitively.
I once apologised to my therapist for having a ‘nervous day’ and he replied ‘it’s just a day’. How we perceive our situations is important if we are going to spend lots of time within them. If we can also create conditions that allow our true selves to flow we may realise that some of our old patterns of behaviour hinder us on our journeys. For example, the right conditions for coping with grief may not be a party for some but for others it maybe exactly what they need. There are no rules and we cannot learn these things from books. Experience is key, and while we are learning, growing pain is inevitable. If we can learn to flow with this pain, learn to flow with the energy of the pain and realise that it is required for us to have a positive and meaningful existence, in the long run, we can be safe in the knowledge that we are sewing the right seeds to form a secure base for ourselves in the future. Pain comes when we feel that we should be feeling other than what we are feeling, so we create a disconnection within ourselves, rather than simply accepting what is.
One thing that helps us to endure the long gravel path is faith. Some pray for strength and patience while others may ask their angels or a higher being of some-kind for help. Many of us seek meaningful and intimate connections with others to soothe us and support us on our journeys. One thing all faith has in common is that it is shared. We are not mean’t to be alone.
Often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key ~ The Eagles
August 30, 2011 · 3:17 pm
He spoke with hurt and I chose him,
This unfortunate soul becomes ego’s friend,
Father’s boundaries adhered never challenged,
His patience tested on a radius of denial,
Whose crib does he sleep that man in consciousness,
All earthly answers lie creased under pillows,
While the boy rides his bike with tendency to fall,
Caught in sympathies yielding nest,
Growing pains heard from mountains afar,
Gods dream, ripped apart thorn by thorn,
A man is born like a calf with unsound legs,
Who now walks alone under his full moon.
Only the wounded healer can truly heal ~ Irvin D. Yalom
August 28, 2011 · 1:02 pm
In the film Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams plays the Psychologist and Matt Damon, the abused and genius patient, who needs help from his psychologist to find direction in his life. What is interesting in this film is that their relationship goes against the grain of orthodox Psychotherapy. We find the analyst disclosing parts of his own life in order to help the patient. He speaks of his wife’s cancer, his experiences of war, death and love, as well as the smaller things in life, which he feels are important. The therapist realises that this is the only way to get through to his patient and adapts his technique in order to heal. What they also have in common is their childhood physical abuse which is finally shared by both parties and accepted as ‘not their fault’. I always hoped that my therapy was shared in this way but I can also understand that this may be the ego’s way of gathering information from the therapist in order to sabotage the theraputic relationship.
In the Vajrayana Buddhist faith there is something called the Samaya bond. In Pema Chodrons words, “If the student accepts and trusts the teacher completely and the teacher accepts the student, they can enter into the unconditional relationship called Samaya. The teacher will never give up on the student no matter how mixed up he or she might be, and the student will also never leave the teacher, no matter what”. The basic premise of the teaching is to help the student realise that they are bound to reality already and that trying to get somewhere is useless as the student is already there. After time and acceptance of being with things as they are the students world becomes more vivid and transparent so he or she views the same world but with new eyes. “And this is a message that never gets interpreted. Things speak for themselves. It’s not that red cushion means passion, or little mouse darting in and out means discursive mind; it’s just red cushion and little mouse”. The important thing here is that the teacher and student have made a marriage of reality. One cannot leave the other so their enlightenment has to be shared.
In both cases the message is clear; Things are what they are and those things will never change unless our perceptions of those things change also. Our perceptions are mainly based on past emotional experiences and it is enlightening to be able to perceive something in a different way through a new relationship or a new set of reflective eyes. So these perceptions can be changed through love. Also in both cases, the student picks his master like ‘incarnation’ where a child supposedly chooses his or her parents and the master or therapist accepts the students invitation. Also in both cases continuous work has to be done, it needs to be sticked at. You can liken the loving relationship to polishing a mirror. As soon as you have polished it dust will start to settle again.
Often we can’t answer the question; “Is it right?”. We can however ask ;”Is it fruitful? ~ Christopher Clouder and Martin Rawson
Filed under My Experiences On The Couch
Tagged as Buddhist, counselling, master, Pema Chodron, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychotherapist, Psychotherapy, Samaya, student, therapeutic relationship, Vajrayana
August 26, 2011 · 8:37 am
Jade is 19 and is training to be a Therapist. She had previously written a piece before for this site entitled “My Therapeutic Introduction” which expressed her unease about seeing a therapist for the first time, with whom she felt uneasy and uncomfortable with. Here is Jade’s second account of Psychotherapy with her new therapist.
Beginning therapy is a tricky business, walking to that front door, knocking discreetly, looking to see if anyone can see where you are going too. All part of the journey I suppose. I had no idea what would be in store for me until the door closed, I sat down and the therapeutic relationship started to form.
After leaving the therapy room I felt like an ant being put onto an atlas globe. So vulnerable and weak against the world, so much space to explore. I felt like I had been opened up to things that I had kept hidden for so long. I felt like I could explore myself and the world and not feel threatened, it was such a strange but surreal feeling. How this one therapist, after one session, can make me think and feel for so long without me cracking (until I got out of course). I felt like I wanted to go back in there and re-live the whole thing over again. Not that it’s nice feeling the pain and upset and the happiness, but having the opportunity to feel something, to see it as what it is, then that is beautiful. It’s like an addiction to chocolate or prescription drugs; you want more of what you think will make you feel better.
I had on and off feelings about it as I was driving home, maybe it was to much to feel all of this after just entering therapy, maybe im not stable or ready enough, but by hell this lady threw it at me. I had gone back and re-lived some of my childhood that I had forgotten, some deep and dark feelings that now I would much rather forget, but I felt and explored them safely with my therapist. Death had a big part to play in my first session, I spoke about my mum having secondary cancer and she came right out and said “is she going to die”?
I sat back in my chair, looked at the floor and felt like I had been punched in my stomach repeatedly. That’s the first time anyone has asked me that question and it was really the first time I had even thought about the fact that I could loose my mum to cancer.
Im very excited that I have 39 more sessions with her. Imagine what i’ll be feeling after 40, obviously I know their will be some rocky paths ahead of me, but I like this feeling of (feeling), expressing, smiling. I wonder what this year is going to have in store for me, I hope it is many good things that I can share with other people – sharing feels awesome.
August 23, 2011 · 5:40 pm
Like many of us, when I had my first taste of monstrous fear and anxiety, I began to read self help books. I took momentary soothing from these books, and at the time they enabled me to calm the storm of these serious life threatening emotions. But despite numerous searchings, and reading tons of these in vain, my fear still haunted and goaded me. In some ways I liken these books to my spiritual ‘O’ Levels as some of the basics were absorbed and have stayed with me ever since. Probably the best example of this would be in M Scott Peck’s ‘The Road Less Travelled’ when Mr. Peck states; “Life is hard”. That teaching is still very much with me on my personal journey.
The ‘self help’ industry is a multi million pound industry, and because the basic nature of ‘us’ wanting a quick fix, this is exactly why it is thriving. These books will not tell you to hold onto pain, they will advise you to skip over it or through it. It makes more sense to invite in what you usually avoid. For me these lessons were never born through books but were arrived at through legitimate suffering as I stayed with my fear and pain whenever I could manage to. Of course fear still grabs me by the throat, but starting with the body, I try to relax into it and know it for what is is, an emotion and a reaction to a conditioned thought of; ‘this may happen to you’! And what, ‘may happen to me’ … ‘The Truth’, thats what will happen. This is the false self or ego’s worst scenario because then it would loose control of ‘itself’.
I had always thought of myself as someone who is kind, flexible and loving but when confronted with this illusion I realised that I am not perfect and if I am not perfect I am continually letting myself down. I constantly invested into an image of myself that I could not live up to. When this was exposed to me, mainly with the help of therapy, I felt as if there was nothing, absolutely nothing, and at times I felt as if I was going to fall off the end of the world. If I didn’t have a story to cling to anymore, then who was I?
Currently I find myself between two schools of thought, one of Psychotherapy and one of Buddhism as they have so much in common. The problem is, as the title of this piece suggests, if ‘I think I’m a Buddhist’ isn’t that too a statement of ‘I’ and one of a fixed thought.. that ‘I’ am somebody. Bomb’s keep continually dropping.
It is possible to live in peace ☮ ~ Mahatma Gandhi
July 23, 2011 · 12:01 pm
I will always remember these words from my first therapist “You begin to live when you leave therapy.” I like to think that you can also live when you are in analysis as well, but if you are like me, you may carry your therapist around in your pocket some of the time. So how does that enable you to be free? Having this little thinking and reflecting ‘action man’ with you at all times can be both comforting and irritating. If you have experienced some extremely emotional situations with your therapist, and you have felt comforted by him, you may tend to elevate your analyst to a God like status as they become the Master, the Knower or the Buddha. This can put you in a juxtaposition and in day to day situations you may be influenced by your therapist, and you may judge many of your actions and thoughts with him in mind.
The thought of leaving therapy can be daunting. What will happen to me when I leave? Will I be able to cope? Is our work really finished or is my ego forcing me to end the relationship? Is my therapist trapping me? You may be reluctant to leave therapy as you do not want to hurt your therapists feelings. These are vital issues that require working through and together you both may reach a better understanding. It is almost impossible for both Therapist and Patient to collectively feel that therapy is over simultaneously, so one person as in all relationships, may feel at a loss. When we leave therapy knowing we have not addressed all our problems we may be mindful that we will always have problems and issues to solve as this is part of being human. We can cling to all sorts of illusions and justifications in regards to ending the theraputic relationship but I guess the obvious reason for leaving therapy is that you want to.
We may sometimes loose sight of the fact that therapy is self-centered and your therapy is about what is good for you. After all, your therapist has worked on themselves and should be able to digest the loss and work through it alone or with supervision.
“Intimate knowledge creates vulnerability. Where intimate knowledge is asymmetrical, vulnerability is also. Whoever is known most about is usually the vulnerable one, for multiple reasons. In psychotherapy, this vulnerable one is the client.”
*Quote by ~ http://sleightmind.wordpress.com
Filed under My Experiences On The Couch
Tagged as counseling, counsellor, countertransference, Intimacy, Leaving Psychotherapy, leaving therapy, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychology, psychotherapist, Psychotherapy, talk therapy
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
June 25, 2011 · 9:07 am
Orthodox confession is the only relationship that I can think of that mirrors therapy in as much as we have no concrete evidence regarding our analysts or our priests personal life. Are they married, are they straight, do they have children? Even your thoughts about their life are projections from the self waiting to be interpreted. It is both peculiar and familiar that after 3 years I still, very occasionally, ask a direct question. The questions I ask are hinged with sarcasm and knowing as I may say “Well I have worked out that you are straight by now.” These feeble attempts always bring a wry smile to my therapists face and the enjoyment for me is studying my analyst and watching him trying to hide any evidence. It feels very child like but I think he enjoys it just as much as I do. It’s as though we both secretly and humbly get the gig.
So all we are left with is our own projections regarding our therapists life. This in itself is so crucial and the lesson can be applied to so many relational situations we encounter every day. The example that leaps out at me is “I can’t believe he/she has done that”. “I” being full of preconceived notions of how things should be done. “Can’t believe” My beliefs are fixed and different from yours. Taken to an extreme we can be continuously surprised and angry at how others behave, think or even feel.
When this lesson has been understood we can then apply this concept to the different parts of our own psyche which may enable us to be more kind to ourselves. “I can understand why that part of me would feel threatened by this or that situation” or “I am not surprised I have kicked myself in over this”. This kind of empathy shown to oneself can be simply put as learning to laugh at yourself but I think that it is more complex than that. It’s being able to laugh, cry or be anxious at yourself. The important thing is that you are there for yourself.
Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense ~ Buddha
June 4, 2011 · 9:59 am
The clock is seen by two and watched intensely by one; fearing those dirty words approaching, “time is up”.
I hear the little boy inside say “I want to stay with you”, but my lips are muted by adulthood.
The practised joker in me plans to fake a fall, anything to stay with the connection.
“You can’t do that” the sensible one claims, “he will think I am mad”.
The punisher steps in “Well, you are mad” and my eyes look up and catch a smile from my master.
“What happened there Will”? he says; “I don’t know” I reply, and I turn again to gaze at the clock.
It’s 1pm, and all I have left is the seconds I see winding away.
“Say it”! demands one voice, “there isn’t time” is cried in defense.
Words pour out without prompt from either side, “I want to stay with you”.
May 24, 2011 · 4:51 pm
“I think his symptoms are likely to be stress related. He has no typical symptoms of colon cancer, though of course, colon cancer often has no typical symptoms.”
As I sit and read this letter, from a digestive specialist to my doctor, I am once again struck by the severity of the power of thought and matters of the heart. Was my body able to produce the same symptoms as my Father who died from this cancer nearly 2 years ago. Can stress really do that?
Unresolved issues bubble underneath unnoticed, often for decades like a volcano, until one day when they finally erupt. What also struck me is the term “typical symptoms” as with the mind and the body we are all so different. According to Freud’s early theory, “painful memories and feelings were repressed by the unconscious and found expression in patients physical symptoms.” Although I have suffered panic attacks and depression in the past, my current physical symptoms seem more physical than mental. These intense emotions and feelings that were repressed may have something to do with my movement around my analysts room, from one ‘place’ or ‘space,’ to another. It is as if I am unable to stay in one place or rather unable to stay with the pain and the wounds for too long so I have to move around.
My therapist was speaking today about Masud Khan who had fifteen-years of analysis with Winnicott and mentioned the phrase “A hard nut to crack” and that “All nuts can be cracked eventually” and I immediately thought that he was refering to me and our 3 1/2 years of analysis. Whether this was actually intentional or a Freudian slip or even transference from my therapists own analysis, it did not matter. I knew my own interpretation very well which is a belief that I should have worked things out by now, that I should be sorted and more aware of my unconscious drives and desires. It, whatever that is, takes as long as it takes.
Robert S. Boynton wrote “Is the aim of psychoanalysis to “cure” or merely to comfort? Should analysts maintain a clinical, professional distance and respect the “boundaries” between themselves and their patients (as classical analysis insists upon)? Or should they strive for a so-called “real relationship,” eroding the boundaries in order to heal the patient?” I liken this to the earlier phrase “typical symptoms” as I believe that in Psychotherapy there aren’t any, it depends on a multitude of complex factors but mainly on what suits the patient and therapist. For me, the relationship is paramount, for others a more clinical relationship may be what is required. I am unsure if I will ever be “cured” but I am sure of my need for some more of that beautiful connectedness and truthfulness that penetrates deep inside, as these wounds are deeper than I thought.
My sense of identity broke down and was replaced by something that is very hard to put into words ~ Eckhart Tolle
Filed under My Experiences On The Couch
Tagged as Childhood anxiety, counselling, counsellor, countertransference, Masud Khan, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychology, psychotherapist, Psychotherapy, Winnicott