Monday, June 29, 2015

Treating Insomnia

. There are few things more frustrating, or debilitating, than functioning on not enough sleep. You're not just tired, but out of sorts, irritable, low energy, less competent at your job and even judgement becomes poor or unreliable. You drag yourself around.
. There are a few causes for sleep disorders, but chief among them is central nervous system high tone. In other words, the body is suffering from some form of anxiety, nervousness or overload. You may not even feel particularly afraid, but the physiological process of being overwhelmed or overcharged is identical to the fight or flight response. The nervous system does not differentiate stress and worry from life or death survival - one is merely more intense than the other.
. Key to turning this picture around is reducing tone in the nervous system, and we do this by separating the things which stress you from those which are physically dangerous. You need your fight or flight response for traffic incidents or wild animals, if you live near any. In this work you take on responsibility for non-life-threatening problems consciously, and relieve the body of trying to deal with them unconsciously. Most likely, that is what's keeping you up.
. I would love to hear a story about a time when you felt great even though you were in a potentially stressful situation.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Secret of Emotional Awareness

The most radical secret of our time is the knowledge that our conscious awareness occurs largely outside of what we know as the mind. If we turn off, for a moment, the running story that our mind generates, it is possible to catch a glimpse of this other half of our inner life. Most of us can do this for about ten seconds without too much effort, and with practice much longer.
The fear, ridiculously, is that we will never come back, but will stay lost in no-thought land. What is actually likely is that thoughts return unbidden, we get lost in the stream we usually swim in and forget the experience of the open mind, that field of pure awareness where all experiences play out. For a moment, trust that the running mental narrative is where we are lost; becoming the observer of what happens within our experience is what it means to be truly awake.
And please don’t confuse being awake and aware with suppressing our feelings, such as with tobacco or other drugs; the euphoria, the narcotic effect of these substances is that they create a semblance of that stillness and freedom by damping down either the thinking or the feeling.
It is easy, in the quest for equanimity, to deny or repress our feelings. But it is far healthier to and indeed more enriching to allow them to run their course, with the caveat that we just don’t allow them to run our course. More on that soon.
Let’s start with the most common of suppressed feelings: fear. There are many stimuli which cause fear in us, and what we learn is that it is ultimately our thoughts about those things which activate the fear. The mental switch. If there is a subtle underlying current of fear, there is a thought at its root.
Treat this fear like a little child: it is not going to go away until you give it your full attention, 100% of your focus and presence. If you do that, there is no attention left for the thought, the story you are telling yourself which is making you afraid. You separate the story from the actual feeling. Allow yourself to fully experience the emotion, the feeling. It helps to think of the process as “experiencing the emotion as energy in your body”. Just don’t keep feeding the feelings with story; that will make them spiral, that is a mental process. Experience the emotional feeling in its purity and power. With no words.
If you can stay with it, stay focused on the feeling, the feeling will begin to change. It will begin running its course. Finally. As you follow it attentively and experientially it will move through your body, until it is all expressed. That is what feelings are meant to do. And, if you can follow that feeling all the way, it evaporates.
By allowing stuck feelings to be felt and expressed, you are making more space for the actual, current feelings which want to be felt.
This brings us back to the secret of consciousness. In this process of feeling without story, we are aware and conscious, certainly, but not in the mind. Feelings naturally well up from deep in our core and move through the body on their way to the rest of the world. A journey from center to periphery, like the rings on a pond when a stone lands in the water.
Yes, feelings are part of the soul, but we do experience them in our entire physical body. They are a non-mental experiencing.
This is often a frightening prospect, because so many of us do not experience feelings naturally. We have blockages or restrictions in our bodies which distort the way we feel things. The study of the way tension and holding, due to old trauma, block natural feeling of emotions is called orgonomy and cannot be approached from too many directions. The practice of experiencing the world and ourselves without judgment and without story is called freedom.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


. The force of compassion is one of the strongest in the universe. It heals us, it connects us, it makes us truly human. The transformative power of compassion is widely underestimated.
. There is a difference between empathy and compassion. Empathy is a natural capacity, with which we are (hopefully) born. It is a cousin of sympathy - you send a sympathy card to show that your own feelings are in sympathy with someone else's. Empathy means you can feel what another person is feeling. True compassion is more than just a natural quality, it is a human capacity. In compassion you can deeply understand another's experience, but with complete awareness. You not only resonate with someone, you really get it. You hear them as if there was nothing else to listen to; you are so totally present you can give the person 100% of your focus and attention. And you can do it without coming up short yourself.
. What happens when you see or hear a person this deeply? How does the inner person react to this kind of meeting? It feels damn good. You feel accepted, heard, seen, valued even. And what's more, you want to be that person they're seeing.
. I called a friend after a nasty fight with a significant other. "Oh my god! That sucks!" she yelled into the phone. "For Pete's sake!" I felt better, immediately. There is nothing better than a good friend! And then she went on: "I don't know, what do you think, John?" and in her tone I could feel that she didn't want me to do anything; like dump this maniac for instance, but was simply concerned. I could feel her pure, disinterested concern. And that's when I felt myself starting to wake up. I began to actually grasp the feelings I was experiencing and to see what they were trying to tell me about my situation. I could sense my own inner self emerging just a bit more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Friend in Disguise

Ever wonder why you continue in a difficult relationship? Honoring a committment, or just low self-esteem? Or sometimes you're stuck there, in a work or school situation. Ever imagine how nice your life would be without that person in it?
How do we know that person isn't there to teach us something really important? In fact, they are here, irritating the hell out of us, in order to draw out qualities and strengths in us for which it would almost seem we have contracted with them. They are clearly the perfect irritant, the ideal button-pusher for this particular set of tender wounds. If you look at a person in that light, you look beyond the annoyance, above appearances. It may well be that the debt is on their side, and this is how they are "repaying" you, as a way of helping you.
What happens when you use this kind of sight? Just soften your eyes, focus on that which is beyond the outer person, and which means you well. (this may not be easy, but keep looking for it, listening, smelling for it) You may see that as a result of your seeing, not only you change, but they begin to change, too. You may start to glimpse a friend in disguise. -JR

Monday, April 13, 2009

Why are kids grouchy?

A little boy in 2nd grade came in because he was refusing to go to school without his mother, throwing temper tantrums and generally exhibiting Resistance to Everything. In the process, he showed us some very old grief-like heaviness in his lungs and chest area. The question we asked was: is there a healthier way to work through this material than by carrying this undigested emotion/stress around, blocking all other progress? The answer was "Sure, I'll take this one over myself". Within two weeks the parents reported a 180 degree turn around, with an age-normal level of emotionality and an ability to function peacefully within the household.
The process: the child's inner humanity was given the support it needed to confront a mass of unprocessed feelings with which there was previously no functional connection. The human capacity for order and health was then able to complete a process for which the resouces had not previously been present. -JR