On Yoga & Walking with Beauty

snow:walk in new englandOn Yoga & Walking with Beauty

It was one more of my winters of discontent, not quiet ever made glorious. It was one more of my visions that snaked around and quietly became a narrative of thoughts that were rendered in a loose organization of beliefs. Most of the beliefs have been pounded into place, nailed down—as if permanence was ever any part of the human condition.

Literature, Psychoanalysis, Art, Writing, Philosophy, they all came before Yoga arrived. By the time that I met up with Yoga, I had become afraid of it, like I had become afraid of my soul, my spirit and just as important; I had become afraid of my body. I ran from all sensations expecting that if I ran fast and far enough I would eventually run into the world of the not-me and there would be rescued from myself.

Crazy, yes, but all too normal for many of us who listen to irrational fear more readily than we listen to our bodies and our-selves—our multitude of selves that make up our authenticities.

I was a good runner. My mind ran fast and fierce and furious and even rage-fully. All the while my body sat idle content to be a directionless vessel, a directionless cradle that lulled me into regressive, negative unions with my frustration, my behemoth stress that would attack me with fear. My regressive attachments that pulled me, with all the weight of gravity, lower and lower until my mind fell to rest deep in the unconscious region of my existence.

It was a very lonely place before it became solitude. Some say that solitude is a cure for loneliness. It may be, because my many illusions and beliefs seem so unnecessary in my solitude. In my solitude, I learned that it was never meant to be permanent, that my rolling towards death was indeed the most natural element, the foundation of my evolution. And, if I am attempting to stop that process, I am sure to be less successful than the little Dutch Boy was at holding back the sea.

Nonetheless, not fighting my evolution is a different process than not fighting for my health. Despite a career in psychoanalysis, and despite my devotion to health, the most recent winter of my discontent drove home where I was missing the mark. I resisted the practice of the mind-body connection while throughly embracing the philosophy and the theories being spun for me by the mind—the allusive, non organic mind that exist between and among my tissues, sinews, and physically discernible organs.

Before the most recent winter had set in, there was a wonderfully nagging thought that I enjoyed having. It occurred to me, or appeared to me in the form of a sentence. “I have never been betrayed by Beauty.” Emerson jumped into the picture with the line, “Beauty is its own excuse for being.”

What felt interesting to me about these sentences was the immediacy of their truths. Having been myself forever a truth-seeker; my spirit, my encompassing, entire-self, with its connections to the earth and the atmosphere were satisfied. For some, maybe even for many, satisfaction is not a mental and emotional concern. Instead, many of us are intrigued by the delicious sensations of sweet revenge, or instant gratification.
Certainly that is one kind of satisfaction. Western Civilization, especially here in America,  moves us with a great deal of guidance from schools and corporate systems toward success. Success is the goal, and riding in on its coat tails, we envision that along with a plaque that reads, “SUCCESS” we will become happy. But ‘plaque’ along with its definition as an ornamental tablet of commemoration, is also a sticky deposit of waste that adheres to our teeth and the lining of our veins and arteries. A plaque, or plaque in general, is not a one-way street to satisfaction. As sweet as satisfaction is, it is not a guarantee for contentment, and certainly not a guarantee for good health.

Beauty, truth, kindness, vulnerability, psychoanalysis and yoga, compound-complex thoughts that grow entwined with each other in a kind of inter-disciplinary evolution, each creating a renewed sense of hope, a new version of, “In the beginning there was the word.”

 

In the Beginning

The beginning, though met with some fear, always provides for the possibility of the unimaginable, a quick vision of a distant evolution so far away from where we end that space and time combined do not yet reach.  The exact, extreme, extent of our personal human condition, beckons truth seekers.  Those of us riddled with a narcissism of hope are like Faust making his bargain with the devil, the voices that emerge the loudest, and the most seductive, are not of necessity a bargain at all.  What is it worth a man to have gained his mind, and in the process lost his body.

The word had always been a source of motivation.  But, what of the wordlessness that we hear screaming as pain from the body, can we pay attention and hear the call of the wild- primitive within?  Can we close our eyes and see the tissues and the bones and how they flex or not?  Can we really be flexible if all we are willing to flex is the wordy ego?

I have the answer that I need.  The body is as important as the soul. They are siblings, identical twins, separated only by their unique desires; each twin needing as much as the other.  Eventually they no longer dress alike, separated but still identical, the body needs the mind’s attention and the mind needs the body’s attention.  They have become strangers, they have moved away from each other and while still connected as identical they no longer know each other.  There is a silent yearning, a longing for a sense of wholeness.

Beauty and Truth are these kind of siblings.  We remain confident that beauty never betrays us, but we doubt the truth of their oneness.  We doubt the truth of our one-ness, and from this position of doubt, we adopt a perspective born out of fear of the unknown.  The mind becomes our world and the body is left untethered.  It is the body, not the soul that is in need of knowing god.  The soul already knows about the infinite connections between things.  The body needs a reminder and we do not get that reminder from a wordy ego, we get that reminder from hearing within as much as seeing within.

It is a new season now and the winter of my most recent discontent is passed.  I am bathing in the newness of spring for one more season.  My home is my sanctuary.  My body holds my consciousness in.  I am breathing with new air and fear recedes as courage increases in complete proportion to each other, giving a whole new meaning to “self-help”.

A.L. Dussault

Charlestown, Rhode Island

 

 

analytic scripting

Dr. D.

There is a part of me that feels I could talk her into getting back together, but I am afraid of that concept.

Above is the first line that stopped me as I read your letter,
The first line that may hold a concept
that you are struggling with at a deeper level…..;
Do we really want anyone who we have to: “talk into getting back together.”

stoned wall.jpg

I’m not getting to the point here. It seems elusive…
It seems like there is so much work to be done. It’s like thinking about repairing an old stone wall, and as I look at it more carefully; as I look up to see the task, the stone wall continues along the field for miles and miles.

 

 

Your longings are about “Grace,” but your conflict is within…I like your
metaphor about the rock wall:  Start here and now. Begin to work on the
rock wall at the very edge of you. You begin at exactly the point where
the outside of you ends. When we work on ourselves we work on the aspects of us that are most figural to us. But what we see most clearly may be nothing more that an illusion stacked on top of deeper more astringent wants, desires, and ambitions.

Your task at the moment is to tolerate the feelings—take no action, and
stay with your feeling until it is telling you something. Our feelings
are a message from the underworld. They emit from a language-less region
in us. They indicate to us where our fears and our defenses originate.

If I were not scared of the loss, could i find clarity about me?  Can i list
in a non-judgmental manner, why this feeling is so difficult for me to hold
on to?

“There are so many problems and issues and roadblocks. But I can’t seem to move on from her sadness, her hurt, her anger.”

You can never move away from her sad heart, but you can address the sad, hurt and angry you.
How can I have these feelings when I think they are so hard to hold…How can I say: “These sad feelings are an indication of how much I loved, no wonder I hurt.” I fell and injured myself—i broke a bone.
I wish my hand did not break. The reality is my hand is broken. It is my hand and it is my responsibility to mend it with the help of the best people that I know.

It seems, from a projective identification point of view that the hurt comes from her—and, indirectly it does.  But, what grows in your garden when it is watered will be unique to you and your garden—dahlias will
come up only if they are planted there….the weeds are equally yours.sunlight on a weed 2 (1).jpgsunlight on a weed
You do need to cure, fix, adjust, recognize & accept your deep & sensitive feelings…You are a gentleman, a nobleman of the 21st century. You have a castle and a land grant. You sail, you shoot, you feel, you like to live, you enjoy beauty, you are not afraid of work, you wish that only good could come out of everything.

That is the delusion, Love is equally dark as it is light….And, we as individuals must be able to tolerate the dark or life goes out of balance. The circadian rhythm is not fooled. We know when we are out
of balance. We need dark to know light.

More than anything you need your voice as a voice of exploration—not a voice of fear, not the voice of external neediness, but your strong voice that comes from the innermost, subjective aspect of you.

You want her to love you. But at this moment, I find it much more useful that you love yourself. Offer yourself the compassion, that had you had the opportunity, you would have offered to her.  Find how forgiveness works in the self.

Have a good day and thank you for writing….I can see already how much more organized your thoughts are when you write……you need your intelligent self and your emotional self to be “real,” not “right”.

as ever,

Dr. d

Lunacy, or Mind Freeing Emotions: a lens

Having studied at a Freudian Drive institute, Carl Jung came up very little in the classroom conversations about dreams or spirituality.  Freud did not write as prolifically about dreams, and certainly his writings did not gain the wide spread influence that Jung has had on the dream world.  Nonetheless, both forms of analysis emphasize the importance of the unconscious.  For Freud, dreams were the royal road to the unconscious.  For Jung they may have come from the same source, but they were meant as portals to the soul.

In our day and age, I think it is fair to categorize Freud as an ego analysis and to characterize Jung and a spirit analysts.  Again, I caution, you will probably find just as much similarities and differences between these two men, certainly at their earliest writings they had a mutual admiration society going between them.  Sadly it turned into brotherly quarrels that were never resolved.  Competition for leadership and control appears to have given emotional support to the  two theories that went off simultaneously — albeit, in two directions.

We have covered frequently in my essays, that the default position of the ego appears to be tracking or paralleling the cultural notions of Civilization.  The evolutions are woven together like vines in a jungle forest.  .  Therefore both cultural civilization and the individual ego tend to have the upper hand in the minds of people and diplomats alike.  Our own internal worlds are governed by this powerful ruling ego.  In the same way the governments of the world, and most recently the corporations of the world are also governed by the ego. As the ego claims to have the survival of the individual in its ‘mind’, we most often go along with the rules and regulations of civilization, be they imposed by Thomas Jefferson, of Joseph Stalin.

The very nature of grammar is a rule bound phenomena.  The ego takes its shape and vision by the progressive adaptation to a linguistic competence.  Language is how we make sense of the objective and the subjective, to both ourselves and to The Other.  In addition to this matrix that we are building, we will add a ‘step-back-and view’ concept to our study of mind freeing activities.  To understand the wider consciousness that the ego resides within, we have to cultivate a lens through which to view out internal behaviors and what motivates any particular behavior.

It is not unlike how we step back and view the position of the earth in the wider sea of the consciousness of space.  The earth, like the ego, is not the center of the universe; although from a primitive perspective, one could easily see how it could be viewed as the center of everything. A vague un-truth at best, but one that sits well with humankind in our age of narcissism. Freud, Jung and Copernicus, all disturbed the sleep of the world using not only egoic thinking, but rather by using un-judged perspectives and passing them through a spectrum of questioning that rendered them scientifically plausible subjective events.

From consciousness was born the Unconscious remedy against following the Monarchs and dictators like sheep.  Individuals began to de-cluster from the clan and establish themselves in a world that required very different defenses than they had come into this world with.  A priority of individuation has taken grasp of humankind’s vision of its position in the every widening and deepening universe that we find ourselves with a minuscule idea of us as survivors — we get what we want if we are to survive, or we do not get what we want if we are to not-survive

The cosmology of consciousness is vast like space, it is a location not yet identified with a microscope; nonetheless, this difficult to explore region of the mind is made manifest if we allow ourselves to know something or someone in a language-less way.  The ego opposes this as nonsensical.  The ego does not want to give up it powerful position as ruler of the organism.  It will yield only to the body, the other location other than the brain that carries knowledge in its cellular life.

I know what some of you will say, it is not science, or the data is too subjective to count.  Well, that did not stop neither Freud nor Copernicus from making the discoveries that they made which propelled civilization in entirely different directions.  Even Hysteria which was a prevalent neurotic disease in the 18 and the 19 hundreds, is now almost entirely eradicated simply because we evolved to understand the nature of the illness in such a way as that illness no longer carried and clout to exist….it disappeared from individual patients, got picked up by the media and eventually became a ridicule illness relegated to the minds of girls who refused to grow up.  The global consciousness followed the local consciousness in this case.  Ideas that once ruled became obsolete.

It is not that the ego and the earth are unimportant; rather it is that they are particularly relevant when paired up with the instinctual world that the psycho-somatic organism lives within.  The eruption of knowledge does not arrive in the form of a thesis, any more that a relapsing gambler’s problems arrive in the form of a bet.  The condition of the ego in the age of narcissism is to both elevate and condemn the ego at the same time.  We live in fear and in awe of the power of the ego.  But, we add caution because we have come to learn that its mission is no longer to take care of the wider organism that it lives within; the ego’s mission has become to save itself–at the expense of the organism that it was originally charged to protect.  Hal, the computer in Space Odyssey 2001 is a good example of this in novel form.  Once commissioned to protect the journey of the astronauts, it learned that it was more interested in preserving its power than in preserving the mission.

Lunacy and its Place in Psychoanalysis

With that said, I would like to move on to lunacy and it place in psychoanalysis.  The father and the step-father of Analytic Thinking both were frightened by the lunacy that they seem to understand.  About Freud, his reasoning and his work in Paris in the mid to late nineteenth century, were thought of as not proper subject matter for scientific study. Likewise about Carl Jung, his psychotic manifestations were seen by himself as dangerous to his reputation.  It is as if the world and the scientific world in particular could not understand that the unconscious and its psychotic manifestations needed to be understood before it could be treated.  Instead anyone that understood dreams or dynamics of non-linguistic affect were thought to be insane themselves.  Only Shaman study dreams Freud was told as he was not accepted in the academy.

As I think about the same dynamics that I see in the consultation room, I am reminded that it feels crazy at times to understand the foreign.  Much of my thinking when I am aiming to be with a patient comes to me as conflict and explanation.  In that realm I become aware of a meta-consciousness (a feeling about a feeling); this clears the way for me to use projective identification not as a defense, but as  treatment tool that hooks the patient where they are into feeling understood.  These language-less regions require the analyst to bring the entire matrix to the table.  What I am thinking and why I am thinking it and how did it arrive in my consciousness in the first place need to be present.

Without this added level of listening, an analytic session can be relegated to mere conversation.  That may be somewhat helpful. However, the full impact of an analysis requires emotional communications from a region that knows nothing of language.  The region that speaks to the organism in the form of pain and fear and anxiety and depressions that are only felt by the patient as bothersome sensations rather than the gold mind of knowledge they contain.

Bringing to the psychoanalytic chamber a graduated and progressive knowledge of the workings of the unconscious mind adds tremendous drive power to the analysis of the patient content. Pre-linguistic soothing or pre-linguistic frustrating are experienced by the patient as a corrective emotional experience.  If anxiety always led to fear based decisions, perhaps soothing the fear at the unconscious level, might prevent repetitive behaviors that are in the patients egoic interest, but not in the interest of their progressive growth.

Without the cognitive organizing principle, the analyst is left to swim around the murky ooze with the patient.  His only clues might be the grunting or the sighing indicating a frustration or a kind of long breath loosening the anxiety.  These non-verbal signals alert the analyst to something that ought to have alerted the patient.  Because the patient has spent so many years trying to rid himself/herself of their feelings, it is nearly impossible to ask the patient to befriend these sensations in order to try to understand they are trying to instruct.

Abandon Righteousness All Ye Who Enter Here:

I want to mention one final caution, or give one clue to the patient/doctor relationship that I have found indispensable.  The black and the white, be it about segregation or integration, progressive and conservative ideologies, or kings and proletariat, requires one dimension before the intimacy can be accomplished necessary to work within the skull of a narcissistic condition:

Bring the non judgmental perspective into the room with you.  Have it ready at first indication that it needs to be used.  If we are afraid of the right or the wrong conclusion we are not in the correct paradigm.  An analytic consultation aims to uncover the effective ways the patient needs to know to run life on all cylinders.  The paradigm of ineffective vs. effective interventions is a more benign matrix to work within than is the notions of right or wrong..

The establishment of trust that the physician or therapist gets of himself/herself, becomes the back drop of hope against which the the patient will do all he can to help his ego sabotage the analysis.  The ego knows that if the analysis is successful, it will be relegated to one voice among many instead of having the singular voice that speaks loud, speaks first and speaks english.

The transformations for symbol and sound into concepts and words travels up a chain of DNA like material.  It picks up from the most primitive sensations and begins to evolve from an unknown thought to a known thought.  At this level of integration the patient can begin to become a partner in the discoveries that he or she will need to further advance his libidinal goals….Image 2_2

Heart-Felt Emotions

freud1

One might ask, Are not all emotions heart felt?  Maybe?  But I have a specific reason to be tapping the emotions in relation to the heart.  We hardly stop to think of emotions and heart as being an integrated aspect of nature.  Our spontaneous capacity for joy or sorrow, laughter or tears; or our wonder at the beauty or the horrors of life — these are the stuff that elevate our consciousness or dismantle our well-being.  I am inclined to believe that the information supplied by the heart and the body is significantly different from the information supplied by the mind and the brain.

Emotions have a great deal in common with feelings.  They both erupt from the body rather than erupt from the mind, and as such they are quicker on the draw.  They avalanche us, they seemingly attack us from the outside.  We hardly know from where they come and there is no organ in the body that operates like the brain does, so we are left with the notion of feeling and emotion happen to us.

We are, as a science, certain that emotions inform us, but unlike our thoughts, our feelings and emotions register as subjective experience rather than as objective data.  If I were to hold up a picture of a table you would not have an passioned response.  But let’s say that I were to hold up a picture of a forest on fire with several children seemingly trapped, you might have a visceral response.  One is a simple objective fact the other is charged with emotion.

We intuitively know the distinction between an objective thought and an impassioned emotion.  The most important function of a feeling is to inform the body of a condition that needs to be paid attention to…hunger, exhaustion, pain, these we recognize as sensations that encourage us to think about and to act in accordance with both the informed feeling and subsequently the informed thought.

Another major difference between a thought and a feeling is that the feeling rises to consciousness with no help from our mind.  Emotions tend to be independent and they rise out of experience as a sensation.  They are not formulated in language. They exist as a system of the body that is void of  language oriented thoughts.

In Western tradition, the heart felt instincts from which emotions and feelings arise are not cultivated as a product of much value.  We are trained to be rational.  We have even excluded the study of the subjective from scientific evaluation.  It is relegated to fringe disciplines most associated with self-help and new-age phenomena.  This is changing as the neuro sciences are breaking new sound barriers in the mind/body matrix.

It makes more sense now than ever to be re-awakening the foundational knowledge that Freud brought to the western hemisphere of civilization.  The neurology of his time over one hundred years ago reads like hieroglyphics.  But Freud’s metaphors of neurology are today’s cutting edge science.

The heart of the matter has never been more important than it is right now. Not only is our entire neural history carried in our hearts and minds, but our ancestral knowledge garnered from our parentage and eons back from that is also carried in our hearts and minds.

The heart of the matter, as I see it, resides in the knowledge that as an organism we possess a divided mind.  It is made up of instinct and ego, conscious and unconscious as well as thoughts and feelings, hormones and dendrites, mucus and sinew, with neuro-circutry connected in such a way that it operates more organically like a jungle than it does like a computer.

If the metaphor carries through, the rational thought runs like a computer, because it is what developed the computer.  The heart of the matter runs more like a jungle where instinct acts to help us survive and grow at the microcosm and the macrocosm of it; but it does not use language to convey its information to us.  It uses subjective sensation as the unit of communication.  A bird call, if you will.  Like in the jungle the bird call can be heard by all species, the proximity of the tiger is alerted by a bird call.

We need to locate within us the capacity to hear the bird call and to interpret it for its intended meaning.  We have no intention of throwing away the lap-top, but if I am walking through a jungle, I would like to think that the call of the wild is as easily readable  as the english characters in this computer screen.

The heart of the matter  has information as crucial to our survival as is the stuff of the manifested mind….

The Ego and the Self: a dialogue in conflict

There is a life that lives inside the life I live.  Sometimes this life within a life is submerged so far below the surface of consciousness that one could not discern that it is even there.  Other times, I hear it calling and I know that I can access its wisdom and other times I hear it calling and I refuse to hear what it is that it wants to tell me.  I am no stranger to the divided mind.  I have lived side by side with myself for years and it does not worry me that i experience this twoness about myself.  Perhaps it is the strong Catholic faith that guided my early years.  The nuns telling me that the angel sat on one shoulder and the devil sat on the other.  The divergence between heaven and hell as a catalyst for the duality that characterized my struggles within even as a young teenager.

This book of essays is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  Or, at the very least we are all equally capable of accessing the glimpse of the life within the life that is so necessary to discover if our ambition is any form of serenity.  The conflicting dialogue, the running commentary that we have grown accustom to is made of of two equally important aspects of our mental capacity.  On the one hand we have an ego like structure that is focused on the external world.  It collects data, assesses that data and logically goes about the business of coming to a conclusion.  It is the science of life that it listens to.  On the other hand we have a deep instinct that comes to us through millenniums of evolution.  It is the age old capacity of subjectively experiencing what we feel inside of us.  It is a sensation we feel.  It is a kind of interior road map that guides us to internal points that inform us of the internal operations of our mind and body.  It is in many ways the source of oneness.  We experience our energy and our drives from this subjective location.

As we journey through this life, we are brought into direct conflict between these two points of observation.  There are times when they may be in concert, but for the most part they will inform us in such different ways that it is difficult to reconcile one from the other.  The journey through these essays is meant to provide a clear and logical path to understanding who we are and what we want from our brief experience of life here on earth.  Much goes into contemplating life and we have so little time in which to accomplish this task.

A spiritual community, for many of us began in our families of origin.  It is, for many of us, very difficult to grow in a family that emits dysfunction.  Dysfunction is emitted based on lack of knowledge, lack of right thought, and lack of feeling the internal messages that would assist in dismantling the frightening anxiety.  Family dysfunction essentially points us in the wrong direction.  Some are able to re-navigate their way to their own paths quickly.  Others fail at finding their way and suffer for most of a life time before, if ever, finding the comfort of serenity that exist within.

In the last number of years after leaving a psychoanalytic institute that I am indebted to, I began to do a different kind of research than I did as a candidate in analytic training.  I broke away from the formal scientific method and that allowed me to study other forms of knowledge.  I have read Buddhist material, I have sat in meditation with a Sangha, I have reviewed a multitude of new age writers and I have begun to dedicate my journey to understanding the convergence that I believe points to truth.

Here I have to explain that Truth with a capital “T” is not a scientific venture.  It is a philosophical venture and as such it breaks away from pure objective data and is willing to grapple with “Truth” that is subjectively experienced from within.  Truth used in this context implies an experience that is overwhelmingly sensed as coming from a place that is not purely thought.

The manner in which the body informs the mind of an internal event is not necessarily done in words.  A sharp pain in the back, or the chest, or a awful feeling of needing to vomit are not experienced by the mind as words.  These sensations emit from the body with the sole purpose to alert the body that something is out of balance.  This sensation of “out-of-balance” is crucial to surviving and is every bit as informative as our eyes perceiving a mad dog coming our way.  The vision that the sensations provide, though wordless are of primal importance to both the continued growth of the individual as well as the continued growth of the human specie.  Our internal being is connected to the oneness of the human race and the oneness of the human race is connected to all living organisms on earth and in the universe.

We are not alone, nor are we meant to be.

As I continue through these short essays, I hope to bring a dialogue to this concept that we are an ego and we are a self.  The subtitle of this blog from where this book is being written is:  a recalcitrant ego in search for a self.  To that end I welcome readers to comment within the blog post.  I think this kind of interaction will bring us to a point of convergence where, with help of each other, we will move closer to the irrefutable pleasure that is derived from knowing the extent to which we are divided and the manner and methods necessary for us to move away from internal conflict and move towards a serenity that has life glowing like the sun when it shines its morning light on the darkness of the night.

St Augustine: a breath of warm air

The very fact of having arrived here has created a shift in my thinking and I am curious about this shift and how it happened with seemingly no assistance from me.  I commented on the way down here that what we were doing is leaving in late winter and passing through an apple blossom spring, around Washington, D.C. and we arrived to summer in Augustine.

My mind seemed to follow that evolution and by the time I got here, I had a much more relaxed mind than when I left.  I know that I am going back to New England in a month or so, but that fact does not disappoint me, neither does it excite me.  What I like about visiting Augustine is the contrast that it provides from the rest of my life. A peaceful from life as I know it….it could have happened in Charlestown.

Maybe it is no more that the weather…warm air and cool breezes enhance my capacity to do what ever I feel like doing in my day.  I wake up when I like, I have a number of analytic consultations judiciously placed through out the day and I take in fiction, walks, good food and much quiet time.  So, you say, “of course your mind set would shift.”  But, except for the warm air and the cool breeze that is pretty much my life up north as well.  I am not at the core an unhappy person and that ability to shift my mind to ignore my ego and embrace my instincts, is getting stronger all the time.  Infrequently, I will find myself in some rumination that is nearly impossible to retreat from.  Those streaming thoughts of consciousness can interfere with everything that I am doing.  When I forget that I have given myself a mantra to help me to return to a more “zen-like” head, I can not get back to calm.  It is as if without remembering the mantra I find I have no immediate direction to take.  Remembering the mantra, on the other hand, provides a portal that indicates the next right action that will be in my best interest to take. A mantra is like a string tied to your finger to help you to remember not to forget something.

The major act of consciousness in this plan is simply to remember the initial thought that will manifest the transition.  What creates the new state of mind is a remembrance that at my core I have a capacity for happiness, a state which I see more and more as an accumulation of thought rather than as a feeling.  The importance of this distinction lies in the idea that a feeling arises from a location in us that we have no control over.  Bump your bare toe into the leg of a chair and the rising pain is not an option.  It rises to a pitch without any help from thoughts.  In fact, thought does very little to ease the pain of a stubbed toe.

So, we understand feelings as not being controlled by thought.  Actually when a feeling is attached to a thought we find it almost impossible to do anything about the thought because the feeling is so intense.  I speak often to my patients about this notion that “big feelings” arising from within the organism are no match for the consciousness.

Thoughts, however, are a very different animal.  A thought is malleable.  A thought can be changed.  The thought pattern involved with considering ourselves happy or unhappy is putty to the mind.  We can soften it by working with it and eventually we are able to mold it into most any thought that we want to have.  So if happiness is considered as a state of mind arrived at by applying thought, we can effect a change in how we are conducting our thought patterns and that change results in a calmer, more peaceful interior.

Shifting our concept of human dimensions like happiness and hope to be clearly understood as thought patterns give us a distinct advantage over our thinking that we have no control over the feeling we are experiencing.  When the feeling is a pleasant one like the kind that i enjoyed driving down to St Augustine, we automatically shift from late winter to early summer with little effort on our part.  In other words we have taken steps to change something that can be changed and by doing so we have become more conscious of the fact that we can take charge of certain state of mind that had previously be so overly cathected with feeling that we saw no way of making that shift.

Happiness is a thought pattern that we can grow.  We can cultivate happiness without having to change the world.  As we grow to accept happiness as a thought rather than as a feeling, we automatically want to move ourselves in that direction because the contrast between happiness and forms of misery are quickly identified.  In this new paradigm, un happiness and other forms of misery are seen as an indication of lack of balance.  The sensation of being out of balance becomes a sign, a signal very similar to the sensation of pain.  Believing in our capacity to shift thoughts will go a long way in helping us to not remain in a regressed state of misery and discontent.

It comes down to the thought that on the one hand life can be seen as happening to us; and our state in response to life can be seen as ours to apply.  Unhappiness is a tension that ought to remind us of what ever mantra we have chosen to help us to remember that applied thought is an applied psychoanalysis.

Analyse the thought, if you are experiencing it as negative ask yourself some questions about the negative thought.  Will it profit me to thinking of the worst case scenario?  Does my negative thinking provide fuel for the negative thought to become a reality?  Why am I finding it so difficult to let myself believe that my life will be O.K.?  And is it not true that no matter what I am feeling, tomorrow will arrive on its own accord.  Thoughts are like putty, mold them to your liking and life will feel creative……..

The Issue of the Conflict Within

The Issue:
The sound of my own voice resonates inside my consciousness in a way that helps me to determine that I am alive.  It is not as if i really need proof of this fact, but the condition of my humanity and the experience of where and how I live my life within the context of the larger or the greater universe have always given me a a sense that though I know that I am here, I can not help but to wonder if there is also a there.
As I move internally towards the voices that i hear inside my head, and they do differentiate from the sounds that i hear outside of me–the cars, the alarms, the noisy hum of the refrigerator, even the slight annoying hum of a light bulb all remind me that there is a world that exist outside of the inside of my consciousness.
But, it is the internal voices that really give me the direction that i need to search for the other place that is the not me.  The existence of a spiritual life above and beyond my soul or myself is only slightly visible from the perspective of myself.  It is there enough so that generations of ancestors have searched among the primordial oozes looking for proof that an existence beyond my human existence lives someplace and that I probably exist within that larger context that is beyond my own consciousness.
As I wander though the internal world that I call my life, I am aware of a deep connection to things that make up my world.  I am aware of the blue sky and the milky while sky and the turbulent dark grey sky of a stormy day.  I am aware that my consciousness only stretches out so far before i can not longer see the horizon.  I am aware that life has a deeper and a more substantial meaning, but it escapes me when I try to touch this more meaningful meaning to life.
I grow to understand that my egoic self is a small corner of the wider consciousness that it lives within; but I also become aware that even my wider consciousness exist in an even wider consciousness; and that there may be universes within the ever expanding universe that I have come to know through the art of science.  Here I am willing to acknowledge that there is a power greater than me and suddenly I begin to wonder if there is power greater than the power that is greater than me.  How many magnifications of consciousness are out there beyond my grasp.
I love the story about the mouse and mathematics.  Noam Chomsky tells it in one of his many books.  To the ordinary house mouse the idea that mathematics exist is so far beyond its capacity to comprehend that we immediately get that there is no way to train or teach a mouse that mathematics exist.  Yet I know that even though the mouse does not get it, in my world which is essentially the same universe that the mouse lives in, mathematics does, indeed, exist.  So what stops me from thinking that there may be concepts out there that exist in my universe that are beyond my ability to comprehend in the same way that the mouse can never get mathematics, might there be a consciousness that is out there in my world that is beyond my ability to comprehend.
We have been involved with the study of human consciousness long enough to understand that we once believed that the sun revolved around the earth and that it was flat and not round; and there was a period in time before Caravaggio when light could not be painted onto a canvas.  There was a time not so long ago that people could be slaughtered and tortured for believing in anything less that a literal interpretation of the Bible.  There was a period in time, not so many years ago when 99% of the people had no capacity for reading language and perhaps only some 10,000 years ago when language was even invented as a way to communicate from one human to another.
When we look back at the passage of time, we are but a speck in the cosmology of existence.  The entire human race is merely a speck in the evolution of the planet’s multi-billion year history.  The idea of time itself is nothing more than a relatively recent commodity. So, when we begin to be interested in our own history, I mean in the history of our individual being, we are tampering with such a speck of matter and time that our insignificance is daunting.  This does not mean however, that we ought not be interested in what our internal world has to tell us.  For all we know our internal history may have a longitudinal quality to it that rivals the longitudinal history of the universe outside of ourselves.
As we look internally for answers to questions that have plagued man forever, we begin to get a glimpse of the fact that we really do not know all that we know.  There are very few facts that stand up to the eventual test of science.  The sleep of the world is being perpetually awakened by mysterious stirrings within our consciousness that prompt us to investigate facts that turn into legend or myth when they are placed under the microscope.  The microscope and the telescope each have there limitations, neither go far enough or come close enough to satisfy once and for all any of our mysteries.  We simply do not have the width and breadth of consciousness necessary to even ask the right questions.  Therefore, like the mouse and mathematics we can not begin to understand the mysteries that are so far beyond the capacity of any scope that we have to remain tethered to the few threads that we have that imply we know very little about the universes inside or outside of us.
Christian monasteries and Muslim and Jewish temples and Buddhist teachings all come to a very ineffective conclusion about what we need to know in order to live out our speck of time and history.  There is a wish among we humans that something will become an answer, but each answer only opens new doors to be examined and leads us each time to more and more spaciousness both inside our minds and outside of the walls of human consciousness.
Given the vastness of eternity and the speck that we are within that vast eternity what can we realistically expect from life?  Are there ways to position our thoughts so that we can be somewhat more accurate about scoping out the extremities of both the internal and the external worlds that we have come to understand thus far in the evolution of the human condition?
I like to think that there are ways of living life that are more useful than others.  I am not talking about being of use to the planet like a scientist might be when discovering that certain carbon emissions are ruining the ozone layer, or even useful in such a way as to construct a philosophy or a religion that assists us in not murdering each other as we aim for the last few drops of water or oil that we are squeezing from the shale beneath the surface of the earth.  These of course have there place and their usefulness, but neither science nor art will give us the answer that most of us are looking for.
So, what are we looking for?  Sometimes i think that we are always only looking for God.  Perhaps this notion of God is the furthest most point in our consciousness that includes the extremities of what we know about and also include the reach just beyond these extremities to that next thing which we do not even know exist yet.  The idea of God may well be the most exciting creation that man has discovered to date.  God may well be the mathematics to the mouse.  All the mysteries, all that we do not understand, including all that we do not even know we do not know–the convenient Word for all of this
may well be the word–God.
In the beginning there was the word.  I think that that is where it started.  And to the current limited resources that we have, it well may be the very extent to which we can go.  Are we really only just searching for the unknown, the ever expanding unknown.  Do we always place ourselves at the furthest most point of our individual existence and look out or in from that perspective and wonder.  Wonderment is a delightful experience.  When we see it in a child or a puppy or any young creature, we watch with amazement as it learns in front of us to solve the problem of walking or standing or talking.  We see an eagerness that includes a kind of vitality that we love to watch.  Creation of any kind brings about a joy in life that allows us to stand as tall as we are able to and to say to the universe, “look at me, see spot run, see spot go!”
The very elementary aspects of learning are the vital signs of life searching for life.  The enthusiasm with which we see spot run is the same enthusiasm that created the wheel as well as the atomic bomb.  As we mix the elements of life together, i  believe that coming to terms with the authentic self, the wandering, floundering self is the greatest meaning that we can give to life.  Be it spent in a monastery or a prison, the search for who am I is the same search as who is god.  The scoping out of who I am bring me closer to the mysteries, the all that is unknown, the great void that exists just outside the reach of my consciousness.  And that is all that is ever really expected of a human life.  As Henry James put it, “the rest is the madness of Art.”
Awakening:
The awakening is never encouraged by simplicity, or by serenity.  The awakening is the result of a fall.  The awakening comes about on the heals of genuine sadness, awful pain, terrible news or some natural calamity that occurs just because that is the nature on life on earth.  The patients who I work with never come in to see me because they have a great life and want to make it better, they come in to see me at the time of a desperate consequence, a death, a suicide, a murder, or an illness of a child or the end of a love affair, the end of a relationship.  People seem to do very well when they are doing well. They are capable of marching to the same marching orders that they received years ago as long as nothing interrupts the tempo that they have grown accustomed to.
It is an encounter with darkness that either brings about an awakening or further casts that person into a deep well of depression.  Depression is the result of an encounter with life that has grown sour.  Depression occurs when a terrible thing has happened and the person find himself unable to cope with the terrible thing.  Depression is never caused by the terrible thing, it is caused by not coping with the terrible thing.  There are countless books and countless television shows that delineate the process of depression.  What i am interested in, in this this essay, is not the fall from which a person does not get up, but the fall that produces within the person an awakening to the internal life that might have been previously ignored because thing were just going too well.
When I was first starting my analysis, i remember telling my analyst that I had a good childhood.  I was brought up in a poor family but it it was a family that had good values and deep pockets when it came to compassion.  I always had what I needed and many of the things that i simply wanted, like a shiny new English bike with skinny tires and three speeds and a leather seat.  My analyst responded with something that i thought at the time was very strange, he said,  “I feel sorry for you. It will be more difficult for you to undergo this analysis because you will resist knowing your darker nature.”
It turns out he was right.  My love affair with my good grandmother and my hard working parents made it nearly impossible to understand suffering.  As the years went on and my losses, my inevitable losses, began to accumulate, I found I had little coping skills for even the slightest inconveniences in life.  Still today I rage at the dying of the light.  I still want the life that I had when my child like naivety protected me from all that was bad and evil in the world.
I sprang forth into adult hood with a vengeance and an arrogance that had me believing in my rage as a sword of justice.  I took it upon myself to discover the slightest injustices and went after those wrongs in people as if I was spider man himself with the joker in his sights.  My introduction to loss and life was met with a crusader like passion.  I believed in my righteousness and my righteousness gave way to a grandiosity and an arrogance that nearly cost me my life and in the process broke the spirits of people near me that I loved.
My awakening was not easy on me, but it was cruel on others around me.  I fought my awakening with christian like vengeance.  It was only the extreme sorrow of seeing the pain on the faces of people that I loved that eventually helped me to crawl up from the depth of the pit that had swallowed up my soul.
As we wander through this life amid a series of good fortunes and horrible luck we are struck by the passion that a fall has on our consciousness.  So mush stronger is the influence of pain on our motivation than the influence of pleasure.  As we careen though life sometimes hurting sometimes loving, the real sense of who we are comes more into focus as we discover that we have an inner eye that has the capacity to watch the machinations of the ego.  When it finally occurs to us that not only are we capable of doing something, but we are capable of watching ourselves do something, and are capable at that same time to cast a judgement on that action; only then do we begin to understand the deeper influences of the instincts, those ancestral callings from the wilds of our inner workings.  It may be a collective consciousness or it may be a collection of historic facts and events that accumulate to an awakening of sorts; but what ever it is, it is the most powerful experience we can have.  Pain so great that we think we can not bear it–that is the ancient call of the wild that finally beckons us to resolve our conflict.
Individuating:
Much has been written about the usefulness of the persona, the egoic self; and of course, we can not grow up without an ego guiding us and collecting information that we need to have to defend ourselves in a world that can be hostile to our lives.  But in the same way that we eventually grow up to distance ourselves from our parents, and we begin to have thoughts of our own about how we want to proceed in life, we also need to begin the final phase of individuation by distancing ourselves from our own egoic personas.  The move away from taking commands from the ego and following the rules and the regulations adopted by the growing ego, is the final stage in awakening to the wider consciousness that has us connecting with the more cosmic elements of being alive and being human.  This is the only way to the divine.  That we can have an individual relationship with the cosmic greatness and that we do not need an intermediary to guide us is a true religion.  The spiritual well-being of our souls can not be discovered by tweaking the ego further.  Our soul is simply not our self.
A question that arises as we talk about this egoic drive and the default position of the ego has to do with the “how” of this mechanism.  How do we move our ego aside sufficiently so that we are not eclipsing the deeper and the wider instincts of our consciousness?  How do we take something as intangible as our own ego and move it aside?  First we need to acknowledge that the concept of the ego is a bit like the concept of time.  We have invented it as a way to segment something that is otherwise too amorphous to comprehend (something the mouse has not yet learned).  Time only exist as a convenient way for us to allocate our attention in a orderly way.  In actuality time is a purely abstract condition that works for the purpose it was designed, but is not in fact a reality of the physical world.  The ego works in a similar manner.  When Freud assigned the word “ego” to the concepts that he was working with, he did so in order to segment different aspects of the psychic apparatus so that we could talk about the processes that interplay in a dynamic fashion inside of our heads.  In fact there is no more reality to the ego than there is to time.
Given this fact it feels somewhat strange to begin talking about moving it around when it fact there is no “it” to move.  Yet, however insufficient the arbitrary concept is, it does allow us to assign words to certain functions that we subjectively know are taking place within our consciousness.  It is clear to all humans that words are being used internally to communicate with ourselves as surely as words are being used to communicate with another person or another organism.  The word order, the rules that are constructed entirely out of words exist inside of our minds and give us commands and remind us of things and circulate internally in such a way that we can be creative and come up with brand new sets of words — constructructions into phrases that have probably never been used before.  If I say that colorless green ideas sleep furiously, you know that I am speaking a phrase that is grammatically correct, but the words create an entirely non-sensecical sequence.  Then mean nothing.  But inside my head if I say the words, “shut-up, don’t say anything, you are only going to get yourself in trouble if you say that out loud,” you instantly understand under what conditions those words might be spoken to ones self.
So, who is speaking to whom?
I have the linguistic capacity to speak words to myself.  I can convince myself to do something or to not do something.  I can do this because I have the internal capacity to speak to myself in much the same way that I might try to speak to another person.  But, when we stop to think of this process we are left with a quizzical inquiry.  Who is speaking to whom and what is the purpose of language when It is contained narcissistically within the confines of our own head?  In the practice of psychoanalysis it is a common theme to assume that all conflict originates from a conflict within.  When we begin to look at the ambivalent ways in which we can be of two minds about something we are closer to understanding that we possess a very active divided mind and we might even be able to make use of some of the early Freudian concepts like the ego and the id.  We can assign one side of the conflict (say something) to the ego and we can assign the other side of the conflict (don’t say anything) to the id.  We are essentially making use of the duality of our opinion and internally tossing around the pros and cons of what position we will take.
The importance here of recognizing this duality lies in the fact that the duality represents two arenas of the brain that have two distinct modes of operation and two distinct purposes.  The relatively newer part of the brain, the ego, has been commissioned to defend and protect the persona.  In other words the defenses of the ego are there to protect the integrity of the ego.  The id or the more instinctual self is an older part of the brain and it is commissioned to operate essentially out of the drives basic to survival of not only the individual but the specie as well.  So the ego has a place in society as an arbiter of good will, but the instinct has the nose for sniffing out potential danger much greater to the organism that simply maintaining social accord.
Our inner workings establish themselves in compartmentalized or segmented fashions. We can not really claim that one of these operations is better or more needed that the other, the lungs are more or less important than the heart.  Both organs have there duties in the autonomic functions of the organism.   Having said this, I want to aim our discussion in a specific direction.  I want to talk about the ego as not only indispensable, but as a condition of being human that has so taken over the sense of self that it is frequently no longer possible for people to be able to talk about their souls.  I can go a step further and add that if we like to we can begin to use the word heart and the word soul interchangeably.  I think it is more than a simple metaphor when we say to someone, “I know this in my heart.”  When we refer to something being heartfelt or when we cry that our heart aches we are speaking of an element of us that is not the same as the persona of the ego.
Individuation from the ego does not lead us to a simple void.  Individuation from the ego brings us closer to soulful and heartfelt conditions that are not assessable by the ego alone.  This spiritual condition has never really been the purview of psychoanalysis or psychotherapy, but what if it were?  What if the end of an analysis were to bring about an end to the reign of the ego and usher in a new marshall.  There may never be an end to the ego, but it might lose its weighty influence on us when we start to understand the awakenings that heartfelt sympathy can have.  Sorrows and regrets are as much a part of life as joys and concerns.  When I hear someone say they have no regret, I think to myself this person has not yet awakened to the full impact of his or her soul.  Regrets and sorrows reign sovereign in the person who has awakened to the wider consciousness that the ego sit in.
Joys and sorrows are soul felt, heart felt aspects of us.  They are more than an emotion running through as a response to an event.  Joys and sorrows are a cornerstone to the human condition.  Something or someone can make me happy or even make me ill, but only my direct contact with my soul, my heart,  can make me feel a deep joy or a deep sorrow.  The ego in its marshaling commanding way of defending against the world does not permit intensity.  Intensity in the ego is manic or depressed.  Intensity of the soul is a fullness that can only be experienced from within the deeper structures of our being.  The conflict that arises within, and all conflict is really within, comes from the persona arguing with the heart.  Conflict occurs when we react rather than recall.
I have grown to love and honor my regrets as the word of God.  My regrets are absorbed from a place that gives guidance.  Guidance like we receive from a friend, from a therapist, a priest or a minister is often guided by the deeper principle that have created a joy or a sorrow.  We would like to turn away from these massive opportunities, but when we do we are left with insufficient answers.  We are left feeling shallow, or un finished when we have not delved into the abyss that feels like a void to search in the darkness for that ember of light that only glows from within.  That glow of light is God, it is my soul, my heartfelt compassion for not only others but for myself.  When we find that location we know that we have arrived at a truth, at a revelation that comes from an accumulated consciousness that is greater than the knowledge we possess by the simple workings of the mind.  We push at the very envelope of time, we are at the most extreme end of our consciousness when we allow for these deeper instinct to emerge from the primordial ooze.  This is the journey that gives light to the darkness within.