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Group as a Community Garden

If you have a supportive sangha, it’s easy to nourish your bodhicitta, the seeds of enlightenment. If you don’t have anyone who understands you, who encourages you in the practice of the living dharma, your desire to practice may wither. Your sangha—family, friends, and copractitioners—is the soil, and you are the seed. No matter how vigorous the seed is, if the soil does not provide nourishment, your seed will die. A good sangha is crucial for the practice. Please find a good sangha or help create one.
From Cultivating the Mind of Love, © 2008 by Thich Nhat Hanh.
complete article at http://www.tricycle.com/insights/fertile-soil-sangha

a garden

Community is a necessary stage in the progress of self actualization. To be actualized is much like being well-analyzed, the process allows us to move toward our selves in a more open and intimate manner. The Sangha or the group is a family of supporters that we can rely on. In the case of the group it is a replacement for a family that is either not available or non-existing.

Like the sentence above suggests, we can’t do it alone and find the kind of environment that feeds us when we are in our lower-most positions. Group and community remind us, when our mind wanders into a dark place, that there are others among us who know all to well the dark place and from their experience they help guide us back toward the light.

I appreciate the word cultivation and the metaphor of the garden because it is grounded in the material of life.

Life is messy. Life can induce chaos. Life is a divided experience in which we think and feel with different aspects of our mind/body matrix. Knowing both sides of the equation is necessary for a balanced algebra.

Groups assist with encouraging balance and encouraging health as the place from which we make our individual decisions.

 

 


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Schedule: Mindfulness in Psychoanalysis 5/1/14

 

office 16 trenton

Hello–Family, Friends, Clients and Interested Folks:

This is being e mailed to people familiar with my practice or
my writing. It is a reminder of my practice hours and practice days
in Rhode Island, and it includes information on the groups that
are on-going in my practice, Mindfulness in Psychoanalysis.
This memo includes information on how to reach me.

web-site:
https://onlinetalktherapy.wordpress.com

Mobile Phone: 401 447 5765

We are leaving St. Augustine in the morning and heading toward
the Shenandoah Valley–my definition of Gods’s Earth. I love photographing
in that region, so we will spend a day meandering through that country side
and we will be back in Rhode Island on Saturday or Sunday this weekend.

Mindfulness in Psychoanalysis will be back in full swing as of Monday May 5th
at 16 Trenton Street in Providence, RI…..
For the time being all my face to face consultations will be held at the Providence office….
The Charlestown site is temporarily closed, as my friend Michael has his music studio
in what had been my Charlestown office. I am enjoying this and as long at it works for Michael and Bernie and I, we plan to continue this arrangement at The Lake.

INDIVIDUAL ANALYTIC CONSULTATIONS:
In-person Consultations: Tuesday Wednesday and Thursdays Providence Office
By phone Consultations by appointment @ mutually convenient times

ANALYTIC GROUPS:
Groups have been operating and there will be no changes in the group schedule
between now and the 20th of June. If you are interested in joining a group or know
someone you want to refer to a group, this is a great time to do this….
Groups operate on
Tuesday Evenings: from 6:30 to 8:00, &
Wednesday Evenings: from 6:00 to 7:30

There will be seven groups between now and June 20th. This is a nice small cluster
of groups if some one is wanting to try this modality. Although these two groups have
been operating for well over 25 years, the core of the group is always changing and
evolving. A seven week trial is a small number of sessions to commit to, enough
groups to be able to tell if you can benefit from the modality; yet, not so many groups
that the commitment feels overwhelming.
You can write to me about this or call any time to discuss an involvement in an
analytic group.

Looking forward to seeing you all in Rhode Island. We will be staying at The Lake
through July 31…..

 

saturated in augustine

dr. al dussault
aldussault@gmail.com

mindfulness in psychoanalysis
web-site:
https://onlinetalktherapy.wordpress.com
blog:
http://freeassociations.wordpress.com/

 

 


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The Compulsion to Repeat vs. Compassion

It is more comfortable to repeat a past performance than it is to construct a new paradigm.  The Compulsion to repeat is a powerful defense and as we know of defenses, they act in service of the ego.  Acting in service of the ego means that they are trying to be helpful to a part of us.  The part of us that has grown and become civilized and has evolved through the ages to become the man who goes to the moon, or the Iron Woman who rules England, or to the creators of the Atom Bomb.  The linguistic aspect of us is the ego.  The ego is that aspect of us that we are most familiar with.  It is what Eckhart Tolle says that we refer to when we call ourselves by our first name.  My ego’s is name Al,  pronounced with no “H” unlike in “Hal,” The computer who operated the guts of the mission to outer-space. In service to its mission, Hal killed the entire crew for its own good–not what the creator had in mind.

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The ego and the Heart can become in conflict, especially if the ego feels threatened by an event, by the future or by it losing advantage in any way.  The ego wants the advantage–always.  It is a competitive little snot if you do not grab a hold of it early enough.  It will kill you to prove it is right in the name of trying to help you.

So who is the “you” and who is the “you”?  When we finally arrive at the nearly indisputable fact that what sits on our shoulders is a very divided mind, we can begin to want to make sense over the amount of conflict that we have lived under.  Until then we usually side with our egos, and though it might operate the conflict in our favor, in the moment; we are hardly ever spiritually and dynamically advanced by the egos maneuvers.

It is also of importance that we recognize that each the ego and the heart are unaware of the others presence.  Each system operates singularly.  But the dominant force is exerted by the ego (what western civilization tells us is right or wrong).  The heart, on the other hand, arrived first in the order of evolution, but its quiet and steady path is hardly noticed.  It wants what is best for us which may not be what is right or wrong for us.  This slight shift in perspective can lead us to an overwhelming shift in paradigm.  A shift that can help us to change, not our behavior; but how we perceive the world.  Often the problem is not with the “problem”, but with how we see the problem.      

     Insights provided by the heart, those emotional communications that cry out to be heard over the voice of the ego, are guided by the subjective mood rather than the indicative mood.  Grammar does have a role in who we are and how we behave.  There are languages that do not have a subjective tense.  In those languages the “if’s, the “could have” the “might have” are not existing.  Only the indicative fact of yes or no or black and white exist in consciousness.   People who live simply out of language awareness miss an entire perspective.  The wider perspective of consciousness is omitted.  The silence of consciousness.

In the indicative system ambiguity is omitted.  Nonetheless, because it is omitted, in perspective, does not mean that it does not exist in reality.  A full repertoire of feelings from despair to over-whelming enthusiasm and joy are necessary components to living a full life.  Within the wide range of the subjective we hold all the possibilities of being human in our hearts.  We are not swallowed by anger, but we know anger intimately.  We are not depreciated by grief, we are enhanced buy the knowledge that it is demonstrating the extent to which we loved the precious object, person, place or thing.  Jealousies and hatreds are not foreign to a good-heart.  They do not conduct a good-heart.

Hearts can be over-come with compassion.  Egos need to be right.  The heart can contain the darker side of life as easily as it can embrace the light.  Compassion is a mindful process by which we come to understand our need for human forgiveness.  The act of forgiving the self for its natural condition of imperfection.  And forgiving other for the very same reason.  The awake mind resonates in possibilities.  The closed off mind, the egoic mind, cowers in fear of ambivalence and dodges interpretations that places the ego in less than attractive light.

storm

Understanding that we are of two minds, how do we access the instincts, how do we find the heart within the clamor of all the linguistic noise?  This is a question for our generation to answer.  We need a new answer because secular society has become disconnected from the good, the bad and the ugly.  Although religion plays a large role in some people’s lives, the overall globe is not a religious one.  This is a globe in much conflict:  plague, hunger, famine, homelessness, war, atrocities, vengeance, and greed to name a few.  And although we are not the first generation to have to answer this question, after all, Adam and Eve seemed to have gotten it wrong and it has been down-hill ever since, each new generation gets a shot at the question.  “Is it nobler in the mind to suffer the slings of outrageous fortune….”

Today we may be better poised to ask the question in a new way.  How do I access my heart-felt emotions–good and bad, and how do I harness these emotions into a kind of fuel, a psychic energy that drives us forward with integrity and fullness of spirit.  It is so easy to claim that we have it all until we lose it all.

There are two evolutions happening simultaneously:  1)  the evolution of culture and civilization through our linguistic competence, and 2) the evolution and development of the individual human ego.  Both evolutions reflect each other and are inextricably tied together, but no one knows exactly how.  We are pointing to a Oneness that might help us to understand that we are really one huge organism.  We are the cosmos, we and the plants and the minerals and the elements we are one thing evolving toward infinity.

Are we always only a half truth waiting for the other half of our reality to sink in?  Do we exist among the weeds and are we only several layers away from the alligator brain that sits in the center of our heads.  I think it would be easy to go in that direction.  It’s all a lot of nothing made from nothing.  Except, what do we do with compassion.  How do we understand empathy if it is truly only about survival.

The instincts of the heart never come after us.  We are never chased by the heart the way we are chased by the ego, by the guilt, by the remorse, by the past.  The heart only lies quietly beating.  It is vigilant, patient, kind, honest and in general, good.  But for us to see these attributes we must have the capacity to invite it in.  Unlike the intrusive ego, the heart has to be invited in.  The heart will lie in waiting and will be available as soon as you summon it to your aid, but you must summon it.

You have to be ready to listen to something that your ego will disagree with.  You need to be ready to look out into the vast void of consciousness in order to sense the quiet and the silence that is needed to understand the heart felt messages from our own subjective.

And in the long run, we will die anyway.  That is the cycle of life that we embark upon when we are born.  We are slated to die at some point.  In the meantime we can let our lives be run by Hal, or we can reach into our silence and pull out a hand-full of compassion and say, “here is to one more day where I like life, and I like liking who I am.”

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Groups Work: Things Are Never Only As They Seem

Image 3 - Version 2 (1)

Charity begins at home.  Group work teaches the elements of a functional community

It may not be necessary to start with the biological evidence that the space between objects, be they cells or planets, is charged with a dynamic that responds or at least carries data between one organism and another.  This “empty” space between objects has primarily been referred to as “nothing.”  Starting with that reputation and continuing right into the present, the study of the subjective has not  been considered a matter for science.  The physical world, the what-you-can-see-and-touch world was the physics of everything.

Common sense, and our sensual perceptions, however, tell us something very different.  At least in our atmosphere there is air between objects and when we are speaking of the space between two people in relationship there is a perpetual transference that exist between the two people and that transferences is at work all the time assessing and re assessing and internally commenting, or subjectively judging the quality and the quantity of the relationship between the two.

Human evolution has complicated these relationships by the, (in geologic time), relatively recent introduction of language; that is, a form of communication that allows for not only the perception of data but the synthesis and the analysis of data.

Language, or “just words” as a recent patient called it, makes use of the space between the two and uses that space as a vehicle to communicate symbols and sounds that are organized in such a way allowing for one person to pretty accurately render a thought and/or an emotion from one to the other.

It is that very space between the two that defines the differences and explores the similarities.  Psychoanalysis is the science that has in the last one-hundred plus years provided the most convincing data that relationships are not only random bumpings into each other.  Instead, psychoanalysis has shown us through clinical research that human interactions are froth with not only what is happening in the moment; but our dynamic interactions contain transferences that may come from not only an earlier event in our lives, but might be handed down in some kind of genetically coded ancestral characteristics.

We are a complicated lot, we humans.

My favorite place to acquire knowledge and understand about my patients is in groups.  I find groups to contain the metaphors for all that we encounter in the rest of our lives.  The circle, the intimate group is a setting in which the negative union is guaranteed a fair hearing.

There is a quality to family life that is evolving in a way that bothers me greatly.  Often I see alienation and disconnections between people and especially in families.  This lack of connection grows into a disrespect because frustrations and negative union are some how not permitted to exist.  It is as if we are homogenizing into a purity of intention that is so fearful of the bacterias that might contaminate, that we are avoiding dynamic differences between us altogether.  We have grown to despise differences in our politics, our society and our families.

As we unconsciously move forward to where we all wear a size nine shoe.  Many of us can not and do not want to keep up with the mis-guided marching forward unconsciously.  We are marginalized and even legislated against.

Let’s get rid of the safety net for the poor and the unfortunate because they are a drag on society.  In the same way we have become use to not calling Mom because she will probably say something that we do not agree with and we do not want to be subjected to an opinion other than our own.  We seem to have become unable to disagree without hating and defending.

We are closing down at home and at work and in our politics.  Differences are seen as dangerous to my greed and growth so they are witnessed with caution.  Eventually the disenfranchised are arrested and punished for the discomfort they cause us.  In families the tendency is to simply drift further away until connections become simply too inconvenient.

The very compassionate and loving feeling of sadness has been trampled into anger, and where there use to be life long attempts to resolve differences, we are seeing major cut-offs in contact and communication.  This further causes the ennui from which our age suffers, but in many cases the new feeling of ennui is also transferred or put onto “The Other”, further complicating resolution, repentance and restitution.

I find that working in groups, we develop more thoughts and  insights into who we are and into the variety of influences that effect or everyday decision making.  I find that empathy and love and compassion and understandings are easier to come come by in a setting where a nonjudgmental atmosphere contributes to intimate investigations that increase our capacity for strength by developing a tolerance for vulnerability…

Group work has been the centerpiece of my psychoanalytic training.  Process and not out-come has been the method through which making the unconscious conscious takes shape.  Group work has also become the centerpiece of my psychoanalytic practice.  When we gather for the explicit purpose of building community we are exposed to our weakness and we are exposed to our strength.  This complete, undistorted view of ourselves, this processing movement toward authenticity provides the new paradigm from which we learn to operate our minds and our bodies in a manner conducive to health, success and happiness…..

Charity still begins at home.

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The Heart-Felt Therapy: shadow of the ego

ink and water

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.