The full moon inspires, it shines down on earth reflecting the intelligence of the universe for us to watch, capture and visit. The full moon is an idea that elicits meditations on joy. Have you ever heard anyone say that they do not like a full moon…there is no reason to dislike the moon, it is a compatriot of the human condition.
Like the moon we reflect the intelligence of the universe. We shine upon friends and family and loved-ones so that we might participate in illuminating their creativity, their love, their willingness to abandon suffering in order to meet joy on its terms. We are like the moon when we support a friend, help to light their way through darkness and help to return them to their own full moon selves.
The moon is a mistress of mindfulness. It shines on the current moment and in that current moment we are asked to forget all that is painful, all that we see as suffering and we are asked to embrace the moon and the moment in a loving entanglement between we and the universe. The moon is not a god, she reflects what God is in the universe.
She inspires us to want to be our best….she is content to be full every 29.6 days and during the remainder of her cycle, she is imperfect like we are….but every so often we are treated to the fullness of her glory and it reminds us that we have a fullness to our glory as well.
The Act of Choosing Forgiveness: This Peace I Give to You
In this series of essays on the Heart-Felt issues we encounter in life and attempt to understand in psychoanalysis or psychotherapy we have focused thus far on gratitude. Gratitude is a major portal leading to the sense of self that is far greater than your ego’s perception of you. This portal we have seen to be the internal route to where your joy resides inside of you. In the act of appreciation we find a joy that is incomparable with any other. Regardless of what you like or love, joy is the out-come of knowingly and deliberately allowing your self to take the action of love or the action of appreciation.
In the action of love we are delivered to the doorway of Joy. There is simplicity to this formula that does not in any manner translate to the conflict you may bring about as a result of fighting against this fact. Getting to Joy is a simple equation: Love something and you will find your heart lighting up in delight. Appreciate something and the negativity that surrounds you will lessen in direct proportion to you level of appreciation.
But what of forgiveness, what can forgiveness do for the soul. In life our purpose is to love. Without loving we hardly feel human. Loving, giving love to someone or something, is valuable to both the giver and the receiver. The loved one feels appreciated and the lover experiences joy.
In forgiveness the ego is even more aggressive, actively rushing in to defend against forgiving. Forgiveness of self or of others becomes another portal at which we can get a glimpse of the delight that is experienced when the deliberate choice is to forgive rather than hold on to resentments. That is the reason why acknowledging the ego’s resistance is so profoundly important in learning the step of letting go. If nothing else we know, we know this: the universe is created out of darkness and light. This physics of this fact has created metaphors that we live by. God and the devil, good and evil, right and wrong, love and hate, the list goes on. The distinctions between the conflicting aspects of the world illuminate our politics and our diplomacy. This conflict presents itself everywhere and is especially significant in our decision-making processes.
The ego has the desire to be right. This desire, born of earthy concerns, becomes an obsession with rightness and everything in the ego’s sight that is not perfect is not acceptable. This need that the ego has to get an “A” in everything has a role in our development. It teaches us the value of perception, assimilation, and integration, and synthesizing, all very important characteristics of an intelligent and successful person. The problem we encounter with the ego is its obsession with the notion of more. Nothing satisfies the ego. There is no mechanism in the ego for establishing a sense of Joy. The ego cannot stop and appreciate, it does not want to stop and forgive. The ego gets its juice from wanting more and being right. There is no place in the ego where forgiveness or gratitude is experienced.
The conflict that emerges in the ego prevents the wider self, the soul, from experiencing a lightness of being that forgiveness provides. In the long run, it is about letting–go, a phrase our society uses indiscriminately. The act of letting-go of resentments is not an easy task. There is an implication that to forgive is to acknowledge a weakness in us. There is further implication that forgiveness will provide the other person with ammunition to attack us even more deeply. Because the ego sole purpose is to prevent itself from being harmed, it tenaciously holds on to righteousness. Thinking that the righteousness will somehow defend us from harm, we hold on to being right at the expense of forgiving them their trespasses or of forgiving ourselves ours.
The importance of forgiveness lies in the role that forgiving plays in our psyches. The purpose of forgiveness is to bring about a peace—peace of mind, peace in our families, peace in the world. As you can see, we have not taken this maximum of truth very seriously. The reason we cannot reap its benefits is simple. We wrongly think that to forgive is to weaken ourselves. As long as we understand the world only through the eyes of the ego, the soul, the Holy Spirit, the deeper self is starved out of sight. We simply think there is more benefit to remaining angry and in power than there is to being in love and with peace.
Accessing the place within that has the power to manifest the spirit in us, gives us grace. That is, it gives us the love of ourselves, which we rightly inherited by being born into the world, and quickly discarded as not important because the ego had so many other fancy important things on its mind. As we have been discussing about heart-felt matters, the whispering of the heart are over-shadowed by the longings of the ego. Until we desire access to our heart-felt selves there is no chance that we will get there. Deliberate intent, as it was shown to exist in discovering joy, will guide us to discovering the intent of forgiveness. The intent of forgiveness is the discovery of peace within. “This peace I give you,” the bible quotes. It is already here for the asking and the allowing. This is what this ancient writing suggests.
To feel “whole” we must allow our holiness to breath. We have to find the willingness to let go of past transgressions. We have to decide that we want the effects of joy and peace more than we want the effects of righteousness and defense.
One last word about forgiveness…the complete act of forgiveness lies in a two-way conversation. That, or whom we want to forgive has to participate in this journey for the effects of the forgiveness to have its full impact. However, this is not always possible and when this is not possible as in the instance when who we need to forgive is already dead, we have to settle for lesser peace. That is the peace of acceptance. Acceptance will provide enough energy to allow you to become empathic. That is, you will need to be willing to understand the other side of the conflict as if you were the other side of the conflict. You will need to be willing to place yourself in the hands of a merciful God. That you must determine on your own. What and who God is in relation to you is yours and yours alone to work out.
The universe has many ways of leading us to redemption. Redemption after all is the absolute recognition that we are powerless in the face of time and death and pain and sorrow. These concepts of darkness will never go away. It is the work of each of us to establish a peace with the darkness. That is the only way that we can muster up the energy to live with the heart-felt spirit that only guides us with truth.
Truth, love, gratitude these are some the moral beatitudes that live in the shadow of the ego. A deliberate intent, or a profound desire to live in light is the necessary first step of every redemption. And every redemption is born out of desire to feel the completeness that a true acceptance provides. Redemption is not about an after-life it is about making peace with yourself within this life.
Distance Regulation as Couples Counseling: how to push-back to feel closer
Distance regulation is a concept heard frequently in object relations. Simply it is a tool for assessing the distance required by a person so they are able to experience The Other in a comfortable manner. There is a myth that goes like this: “You have to be close all the time.”
When working with couples the issue of boundaries is significant. Most often with the primary significant other, but also with other family members and friends and colleagues and bosses.
As we process a relationship, that is, as we try to understand what is wrong in a relationship we might be frightened by realizing the problem is we are too close. We may discover that it has become difficult to say “No” to someone we love or to someone we think is in-charge-of-us. We worry what the other person will think and we let what we are thinking and feeling take a back seat to the others concerns. In time the lack of taking care of the self in relation to others becomes a blurred and chaotic boundary.
When the boundaries become blurred we have no method available to regulate the distance we need to keep in order to salvage the relationship. In other words we behave in the exact opposite way that we need to. We think that meeting the others needs will be in our best interest. When this is done to extremes, self-confidence withers away. In time we begin to have the thought that we need to end the relationship.
Often by this point in time, it is true that the relationship can no longer be saved; but, also true is the fact that maintaining adequate boundaries may make a positive shift so significant that the relationship improves dramatically and quickly. Telling ourselves, then our partner, what is the necessary distance is required for a relationship to flourish. If a person thinks that giving themselves over to the other person is what is required, in time the relationship will become too over-stimulating. Neither party will want it.
Fear of doing what is best for you will in the long run destroy exactly what it is that is being protected.
Distance regulation is about saying calmly–“I can not comfortable do this.” If the request or the expectation is one of self-sacrifice there is little chance that your needs will be met. In the condition of un-met needs the person becomes unable to differentiate what is good and what is not good for themselves. This then become the cause of the chaos. With chaos instead of clarity the person loses their sense of self and thinks that ending the relationship is a better idea than presenting calmly their own needs with an assertiveness that demands attention. Distance regulation prevents hostilities from growing into recalcitrant resentments. Although backing away might seem counter-intuitive, it may be the best route to intimacy because intimacy requires there be two people present, two sets of needs, two out-looks, two unique individuals.
Don’t be afraid to back-off to become close.
About The Chronic Inability to Sooth Yourself When Emotions are Over-Stimulating: How stress becomes internalized when we externalize the problem and point to something outside of us as the cause or reason of our discomfort.
The reason is rather simple. The instincts know that the externalizing is not the answer, so the body is instructed to ramp up the stress, thinking that if the stress is ramped up maybe the ego will finally listen and begin to look inside for the conflict. If we look inside, after all, we just might find the answer and the portal through which we pass may bring us to the heart-felt well-being that we all crave. But for this to happen we have to be ready to abandon our misery, regardless of how comforting it may have seemed in our past.
Stress is a messenger. It indicates that something is wrong inside. And because it is a message it need to be listened to and it needs to be interpreted and understood. But what if the feeling of stress is so strong that it overwhelms the thinking? What if instead of listening to the body we ignore the feeling.
In most cases where the stress is ignored, the body will begin to respond through some kind of organ dysfunction. In other cases the mood will be attacked and the person will become depressed instead of expressing the intention of the emotion. In rare cases the mind will be so fried that the person is declared mentally ill and often has to be confined to not hurt themselves or anyone else.
Stress ought to be acting like a yellow traffic light. It ought to be alerting us to the fact that we have to slow down and come to a complete stop before proceeding through the intersection. The stress is asking us to slow down, stop and re-group. But under the influence of the ego, the mind thinks that the stress itself is the problem and it begins to attack the messenger. We can go back to the days of the greek Empire to read of killing the messenger as a manner of not having to hear the message.
When stress is embraced, we begin to understand that the message may not be the one we were hoping to hear. By stopping to listen to the echoes of the heart, the rhythm of the structural beat of our lives, we find that by deliberately calming ourselves, we have the strength to endure the over-whelming feelings. Once we know that we can endure a feeling we are less likely to push the feeling aside. Once we have heard the perspective of the heart, the idea that comes from the deeper instincts, we might find a new manner of looking at the problem. Out of the new way of looking at the problem we tend to discover new ideas for coping and encouraging the future more to our liking. Being happy, being content and at peace is not a gift that we look for, it is a discipline that we cultivate. And for that to happen we need to begin to believe that we can have what we want.
Western Civilization has cultivated many ideas that have long out-lived their usefulness. The earth is not flat, the universe is not only expanding but it is doing so at an exponential rate, our gravity may not be the only gravity in the universe, E=MC (2), Quantum Physics is replacing Newtonian Physics, the Greeks and the Romans had many Gods, most modern religions worship one God, Is God dead?
Given our track record it is not so hard to believe the notion that self-care and self-soothing are primary in our drive states. If we do not understand how to place our needs in proper perspective, and we subscribe to some ancient notion that the world will run better if we only do not think of ourselves, we run the risk of being useless to ourselves and harmful to others.
When we are not perceiving with your own best interest in mind our life will look like chaos and a shamble. This is precisely because our idea of what we want has to be run through someone else’s mind. I am not OK with saying “No” because the person I say “N0” to will not like it. This leave us with no guide.
Many mothers struggle with this concept. They have been told through countless commercials and religious affiliations the story that selfishness leads to loneliness. A good person places the needs of The Other before the needs of the self. This idea may well go the way of Newtonian Physics. It is being replaced by a notion constructed on the idea that no hierarchy of priority has to be established. Meeting your need is meeting the needs of The Other.
Desire and our ability to keep our eye on what we want from the world is the first order of business. All other responsibilities and obligations emit from this perspective. Your child is not more important that you and you are not more important than your child. The notion is wrong. Committing ourselves to getting what we want from the world will bring along all of our responsibilities, and the needs of those in our charge will follow like ducks in a row.
Soothing oneself is accomplished by calming the emotion, stopping the process of thought, allowing your mind to clear and re-fill it with a eye toward what your desires in-the-moment are calling for. If you need to leave, leave. if you need to stay, stay. If you want to rest, rest. It may sound like a simple exaggeration, but it is really the central theme of caring for ourselves. When we allow, give ourselves permission to want in a totally uninhibited manned, we find that the world will accommodate.
If you do not perceive your own best interest, you will not be connected to libido, (desire). In this scenario you will find it impossible to be anything but overwhelmed. Once in an overwhelmed state the only possible way out is to rest—stop, calm and breath….have no thoughts for even 20 seconds before you begin again to repeat to yourself just how un-fair people are to you. In a short time it will occur to you that repeating the injuries to yourself will only serve to create depression, inertia and misery….
Fear, our fear that we are not enough stops us from dreaming our dreams….Dream on, because our best self lies in the hope that we can deliberately go after what we want.
dr. albert dussault
mindfulness in psychoanalysis
When people tell us to pay attention to our feelings, what are they telling us to do? Most of us can not avoid a feeling if our life depended on in. So why is it heard so often in therapy or counseling session.
The way I see it we have all of our feelings all of the time, but the level of consciousness that we are willing to allow them makes the difference between a successful, effective life and a life filled with opposition, misery and useless contemplation.
Paying attention to what the instincts are telling us requires deliberate intent. Falling into a dark or deep regression will happen by default. Listening to our feelings, rather than listening to a hyper-active ego will balance the perspective. And with a well-balanced perspective, the self has an easier time emerging from beneath the shadow of the ego.
I have been reminding my readers that listening to the heart is much like hearing a parable being told. We listen to the words of a parable and we know that the content is a story that has meaning at more than one level of consciousness. In other words, it is heart-felt.
Thich Naht Hann gives us a delightful example of this in his writing:
In this parable, two monks are sent on a mission requiring them to travel by foot a long distance between one monastery and another. The journey was to take a full-day. Both monks walked in silence. Around noon of that day they came upon a village where it had just rained a good tropical down-pour. They noticed a woman hesitating as she stood before a deep puddle. She would ruin her long silk gown if she crossed the murky, brown water.
One monk saw her struggling with her emotions and he walked over to the woman, picked her up and put her down on the other side of the puddle. She bowed and thanked him. He put his hands together and bowed to her then moved on.
As it was nearing sun-down and they were approaching the monastery, the monk that witnessed this said, “You know that we are not allowed to touch woman.” The monk who had helped the young woman replied, “Interesting that you still carry her, I put her down five hours ago.”
I would call this a heart-felt parable. Metaphors have long been used to convey unconscious meaning and when an unconscious meaning is transferred from the therapist to the client, an emotional communication takes place that is more than the sum of the story. We know right away from the parable above that the story is not only about the content of the parable, but that it is also about the deeper truth that the parable conveys.
We could speculate: One felt jealous, one was stuck in a rule based mind-set, one was arrogant, one was empathic, one was frightened, one felt empowered…….of course we can go on; but the point here is what was conveyed to we the readers of Thich Naht Hann’s parable. The information transferred to the reader was an emotional communication, and as such touched us in a physical way; that is, we felt the sensation of learning, rather than simply having heard the data of the story.
Heart-felt sensations have much information to impart to us. They connect us with a deeper aspect of the self, one that is less restricted by the current events in our life and instead instructs the more base instincts. In the story, doing the right thing is under-emphasized and doing what one feels is correct is underscored without that ever being said.
The emotions swim through us all the time. We have to deliberately stop and calm the mind before we can access what the emotion is trying to convey. When we have listened to the instincts, we are not autonomically going to follow the feeling, but we have a new and additional perspective with which to look at our life, our situation.
Frequently, that process is much assisted by a therapy, a friend, or a spiritual consultant. At the feeling level of existence we are entirely inter-dependent with fellow humans. For some that causes a problem, for others it is the source of comfort.
The allusive search for “joy” begins with a stirring in the soul that something is missing. The stirring in the soul is experienced as a discomfort, a depression, perhaps some anxiety or a generalized feeling that the well-being is missing. This emotionally painful state, this debilitating state seems to manifest as a massive depletion of energy.
The question we are asking here, this morning, has to do with this energy. Is it missing, is it occupied, or is it there but dormant and waiting for some signal from the organism to awaken it. How do we locate the portal, the door-way that leads to gratification?
The experience of awakening energy in ourselves ought to be a fairly simply concept to recognize. We have all felt it as adults and as children…suddenly, a burst of enthusiasm will erupt from within, brought about by a thought that is exciting:
A warm summer morning, the sun is already burning and it is only 9:00 a.m. You are sitting in front of a television watching some mindless re-run of whatever. The phone rings in the kitchen and you hear your mother answer it. “Yes,” she says, “of course, we will be ready.”
Then from the same kitchen, “Butch,” that was your aunt Alice do you want to go to the beach with your cousin Barbara?”
Immediately, my insides are jumping-for-joy. I have a purpose, I can see a desired horizon. I do not feel alone and bored and lethargic. A feeling of “YIPPIE….” stirs inside and I am up and fetching my few favorite beach toys, and my bathing suit. I sit at the counter and watch as Mom prepares the lunch that we will be taking to the beach.
The example of going from bad to good, from negative to positive, from sad to glad or from any depleted state to a state of abundance, is a phenomenal experience and we can dig into our past and find examples of this transition.
But, what if we do not have an Aunt Alice, or what if we can not locate anything outside of us that will give us the lift that we need to proceed? What happens to the question of accessing “JOY” if we find ourselves alone with our feelings so overwhelmingly lonely that we try not to even open our eyes, or we find we have to stay in bed just to not hurt so badly?
The Universe, the Higher Consciousness, God, Buddha, the Wind and the Breeze, these are the raw materials of joy. But like any raw-material, finding the quartz in a stone of granite may be easier than it is to extract the smokey brown quartz from where it has been nestled for a multitude of life-times.
The raw material is “Joy,” but the product that we will need to extract the joy from the granite stone is “Love”.
Loving something–deliberately, finding something to love is the route that we must take to move ourselves from a negative state to a positive state. Now, some who hear this will immediately respond with something like, “well, if I was in love of course I would feel different.”
What I am talking about is finding something in your immediate environment that you can point to and say, “I love that old chair, I love that coffee cup. I love to sit alone with my first cup of coffee or my first cup of tea in the morning.” The way this is accomplished is by the process of deliberate intent. The horizon has to contain something that we want.
Desire is the center-piece of human love and is therefore the route to joy. Joy is nothing less than our purpose on earth. The multitude of things, good or bad, that can happen to a human is exponential with age. As we move through life it become more and more important to know what and how we Love.
Love is an action word. The infinitive verb, “to love” is an active verb. It is not a noun–it is not a person place or thing, Love is an action that we take, the results of which are the internal contentments that we can name “Joy”.
The default position of the human ego is sultry even stifling. The ego is the manifestation of the brain that is charged with the accumulation of intellect. No amount of accumulated intellect will provide joy. If a smile come slightly across your face when you think of something–pursue that thing, you will be following love right to the doorway of Joy.
The smallest manifestations count toward assimilating this idea. I love to swim in the lake, becomes an action of I am going down to the water for a swim. The act of loving the coffee cup that I have had for the past 30 years brings me a slight smile when I find it among the other twenty or so cups…the rest are cups. This cup I love..knowing that I love it, stopping to acknowledge that I love it will lead to the feeling of joy creeping into my spirit.
This is not hard philosophy or hard science. This is common sense, applied psychoanalysis, applied buddhism if you wish. It is not something that only some of us know, or only some of us have; it is a universal law that works with each individual mind that applies itself to idea of deliberate intent. I want to feel better. I want to laugh. I want to find my favorite coffee cup, I want to call my friend, I want to visit my family, I want to swim, I want to enjoy my life…these statements of purpose all lead to joy, full-filled by acknowledging that we love something.
Find something to Love.