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Moving towards health, success and well-being

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Psychoanalysis: breath & balance

This is important stuff.

Maybe, as important as anything can be moving us toward self guided health care, and ever evolving toward emotional maturity. The mental gymnastics that the ego or conscious mind puts us through is counter-stabilized  with breath and balance.

The instincts do not remain in the shadow of the object when the body is consulted for sensations. But that really only works from the position of stillness. Getting to still point with mantra and breath is a fundamental aspect of getting to health. Of course, life also happens between sessions of any practice. It is the balance we learn before hand that steadies us in a moment of body-pain. Sometime our own body pain, or even the body pain of others we live with can activate the lack of balance (mental, emotional & physical).

The return of the repressed and the return of the repetition compulsion activates and ignites fear which then takes our breath out of balance and everything feels wrong.

With the crown of your head high, your shoulders relaxed and a deep breath filling all of your lungs, slowly let out more breath than you took in. Breath like you are conducting the figure 8.


Why?  Because a well analyzed life includes a connection with the body-unconscious where our ancestry, experiences and memories are stored like in a freezer until some heat, some return of the repressed ignites the muscles, cells, bones of sensation and demands of us that we pay attention.  The needle on the gage reads low energy.  Going too much further without replenishing and we risk running out of gas only half way to our destination.


Below is an example of a meditation–it is constructed of non-mentated gestures and lines that I filled in with color and mood.  Well-being is a state of no effort because it takes as its starting point a moment of stillness. Therefore,  a better chance of leading to clarity than if we attempt to move through chaos….contour-and-gesture-1


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Thoughts on Christopher Bollas’s, “Generational Consciousness”*

Version 2

My grandmother left Canada with hope. The potato famine and poverty of Canadian farming pushed them south at the end of the 19th century. Her generation came here with opportunities to cultivate, and with full knowledge that she was leaving the previous generation behind, a loss taken to ensure survival. There must have been great strength garnered from the courage it took to migrate, leaving family, home, and all that is familiar behind for better prospects.

They arrived in America at a time of great innovation and rapid advances. There were no airplanes, no cars, electricity was a new technology when they got here in the late 1800’s by their new millennium

My parents, on the other hand, arrived to their 20’s and, saw the failure of that generation to be able to sustain the progress. They arrived to their generational subculture at a world of a Great Depression, soup lines, stock market crash and a most devastating world war, culminating by the dropping of two atomic bombs.

My folks inherited the failed dreams of their immediate past. I was born in a time of prosperity. Though my family was poor, the world felt promising. We were the generation that could have its cake and eat it too. We inherited the hope of peace, but just as your generation arrived in the world, our radical peace movement and hippie communes failed to sustain itself, and the cycle started over again where like my mother you were born into a generational failed dream. Generations are defining,  we shape the generation and the generation shapes us.  We bring individual goals and ambitions to the world but in addition to our individual view of our times, the times that we live in have a kind of sociological perspective that become a part of our psychic experience.

Bollas points out that it is not until young people are in their 20’s that they begin to identify with the cultural norms of their generation. At about this age, children begin to see themselves as belonging to the future generation. They are accomplishing a transition between where they came from and where they are going in the outside world and in the subjective world of the self.
Christopher Bollas says this:  “The sense of isolation can be severe, but solace may be found through recognizing that he or she is part of a mass sub-culture, a new adolescent subculture forming out of the abyss between generations.” When you are exit-ing your family of origin; and at the same time emerging into an adult, the process is almost entirely an unconscious one.  The experience is as much about loss as it is about forward movement.

The norms of the New Generation must be incorporated or the child becoming an adult fails the transition process and begins to doubt their ability to become capable participants in the New World order.  When the anxiety to separate from one generation is difficult to tolerate, the individuation of the child suffers. This process then settles itself into the consciousness as a lack of confidence and low self-esteem.

The massive difference between generations is not perceived except in retrospect. In hindsight we radically recognize the difference between the 1950s and the 1960s; yet, 1958 at the time did not look all that different from 1962.  Likewise, if you were born in the 60’s you have a memory of your parents generation and a sense of belonging and remembering first- hand the 70’s and the 80’s. The future decades all seem about the same save for a few technological advances that may stand out.

Christopher Bollas seems to be saying that there is a collective consciousness that assigns us to the generation that we belong too.  If a child assigns himself to the wrong (previous) generation because of fear of separation, success in the new generation becomes more difficult.

To this very difficult but natural set of complexes, we can add, in some cases; the generation that you came from makes it difficult for the transition to run smoothly. A consciousness of differences between generational norms allows a parent to assist rather than hamper the transitional process.  On the other hand, jealousy of youth, or fear of separating in the parent can retard the child’s development. The child may fear reprisal and abandonment from the parent’s generation and then attempts to remain the child of the previous generation rather than an adult in his or her own generation.

The consequences of not moving forward, of not letting go, obscure the possibilities of the future, and security and a false sense of safety are sought to mitigate the affects of fear and loneliness.

Christopher Bollas has written a bold new sociological take on the psychoanalytic process of separation and individuation.  His essay goes on to describe, in beautifully written language, the multitude of facts, fictions and symbols that enter the consciousness of a human during this delicate, but at time violent attempt to become a self….

From readings in, On Being a Character, 1992, “Generational Consciousness”.

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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

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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Me & My Dad: a selfie



What are the bridges from low-self worth to the real self.

The real self, the authentic self is equally neurotic in grandiosity as he or she is in self-defeat.  Fearing that we are not enough we strive to meet an ideal that we create for ourselves.  This ideal is filled with over-compensation and is therefore as unreliable as our fearing self in relation to giving us the feeling that we are enough and therefore prideful in who we are.

The chronic question of who we want to be over-shadows the who we are in such a way as to blur reality.  In the state of chronic striving we miss the importance of the nuances of life and miss, as well, the feeling of warmth that we get from the experience of life.

Moving from cold toward our real selves is a movement toward warmth–life is warm.  Death is cold.  In this equation it is our task to live as well as we can within the boundaries of human limitations.  We can want to be better, we can want to learn a new skill, we can want more things and even a happier life; we just can not want as a chronic condition.

At some point in the process of a psychoanalysis we face who we are with certainty.  This is not the end of the process.  While at the still point of facing ourselves it becomes important to make the choice that is most comfortable with the self…This is fundamentally different from what we hear about in the media and what we grew up believing.

The comfortable choice allows for the thoughts to come from the ego, but does not buy into the idea that the ego’s voice is the only alternative.  Listening more closely to our body, the anxiety that arises, the lethargy that may impose itself; or the somatic complaints that we may have, need to be heard.  Because these sensations are often un pleasant we at times try to ignore and dismiss the feeling.  When we chose this option the voices of the body come back in a louder and stronger manner.

A question oriented toward self-understanding is the better option.  What am I trying to tell myself with the activation of this anxiety?  Am I on target?  Am I aiming for well-being?  These questions posed to the anxiety can shed light on an otherwise very dark place within our subjective self.

If we are aiming to please others rather than aiming for our well-being first we will lose focus and the lack of clarity actually exacerbates the power of the anxiety or the power of the somatic complaint.

It is important to remember that the idealized version of ourselves is as important to dismantle as is the condition of low self-confidence.


Below is an article written by a counselor in Texas.  It is short and it is accurate in its mission.

Happy reading.

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The Road Map Is Not The Landscape



Van Gogh tells a story of a countess who commissioned him to do a portrait.  When the portrait was finished and it came time to unveil the canvas to his subject, she had a startled response.  “My God, she said, “that is not me!”

“No, Madame, you are quite right that is not you, that is a painting of you.”


Frequently as we meander through life, we internalize images and thoughts and these images and thought are stored in a “consciousness-storage” container.  Some place in the brain-body matrix we have visions and we hold on to these visions as memories.  They take on an internal life of their own.  We can close our eyes and see a light we saw ten years ago, or we close our eyes and we see a person saying something to us.

At times these visions of our internal world become so real that they appear to us to be our reality.  In fact these visions and memories are simply symbolic representations of those people, places or things.

What is contained in our minds represent the world outside of us, but it is not the world outside of us any more than a road map of the eastern United States is the landscape of the eastern United States.

We can find Flint, Virginia on the map, and a good map will represent the way to get to Flint Virginia, but, it is not Flint, Virginia.  In the same way we often have a dialogue with ourselves and that internal dialogue takes a form that resembles reality.  We can become convinced that this internal dialogue is life, when in actuality the internal only symbolically represents life.

If we go looking inside ourselves for our souls, we will find inside a representation of our souls, but our souls are not in us.  We are in our souls.  The soul, what Emerson called the Over-soul is something that we reside in.  It does not reside in us–we reside in it.

It is an important philosophical distinction because if we can not let ourselves know that life is out-side of us, we will continue to believe that when we find Flint, Virginia on a broad map that is all that there is to Flint.  Guide-post exist inside of us that we can use to find the world, but we ought not confuse the map for the reality.  If we only find our selves on the map we will fall far short of the satisfactions that the universe can provide.

Let’s give it a shot.  Let’s go find ourselves in the world rather than remain content with the representational, symbolic world that exist as a chemical matrix within.


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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.


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.

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

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

mindfulness in psychoanalysis



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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.


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.


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.”