The Bridge Home

the bridge home

 

When the holidays are upon us, the bridge home seems to be a more rickety bridge than usual.  Family life can encompass the best of days and the worst of days.  Remembering that what we fear in life is losing control of our selves, family can induce a loss of self and soul that has us wanting to scurry for the first rabbit hole that we find. It can also hold us in its embrace when the sorrow is too much to handle, and we are overwhelmed with grief.

Home for the holidays with Barbara Stanwyck  living in a perfect New England home, snow bound with a horse drawn sleigh at the front door to bring you into town for the last minute pound of butter or canned milk, was too pretty.  It creates in us a longing for something that does not really exist.  It always made me ask as a kid, “where do they go to the bathroom?”  You never saw in those idyllic movies where and of the “crap” happened.

christmas in connecticut

Life in 21st century America is a dollar driven life with things and events symbolizing an upward mobility and a sense of abundance that is not on the horizon for most Americans any more.  We have what we have, and we have to find a way to be content with that because the upward mobility american-dream-thing is a rapidly vanishing fantasy that is as equally unpalatable as Barbara’s dream in a 1950 Christmas in Connecticut movie.

Even our beloved states of longing seem to vanish with the advent of capitalism replacing democracy as not only the economic system of the american people, but as the form of government and the types of lives that are permitted under this new umbrella of global aristocracy. We have become income driven–not values driven.

As Americans we inherited a transcendental philosophy that was born out of the writings of Emerson, Alcott, and the 19th century Concord Literary Society that became know as the 1st revolutionaries in American Literature.  That period of American History became engrained in us, representing a value that was greater that what money could buy.  The early Transcendentalist saw the natural elements of life as the template to a free and loving society.  It used the natural to remind us of life and death.  It used humanity as the test center that attempted to illustrate that a society, a neighborhood was greater than the sum of its parts.

Communities and families died and suffered and lived and enjoyed life together.  The small town, dirt-road, trails always led to somewhere you wanted to be.  After all it was the the trotted road the got the wear.  Families are pretty much all that is left of this inter-dependent way of life; and families are hanging on by a thread as the holy dollar calls the older brother to Cleveland, and the younger sister to Huston and the parents had to retire to Florida as the Massachusetts economy became too expensive to purchase on a fixed-income.  So middle sister, who was fortunate enough to find a husband and a job in the home town, is now the only member of the family left in the home town.

Is it still home town when everyone you know has moved on or moved away?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is only food and companionship and love that make it happen.  It is not a commercial holiday.  Except for food, the stores have to be clamoring for your Christmas dollar there is no Thanksgiving gift.  And I am grateful for that fact.  Department stores and Big Box stores could starve to death on Thanksgiving and I would have one more things to be grateful for.

I want to make a wish today.  I want to wish that everyone who reads this essay will find a way to promote this message to everyone they know and meet.  I want this holiday to stay free of commercial broadcasting and that there will never be such a thing a thanksgiving music..  I want everyone to be as persistent as they can be to call families together for this once a year gratitude day.

I want the bridge home for Thanksgiving to be free and easy and spontaneous and not filled with expectations.  I want every one who wants to be home for the holiday to be able to get there.  I wish that this message get read by people who are just on the verge of wanting to get home to be spurred homeward by the sincerity and forgiveness that this holiday promotes.

 

Happy Gratitude Day, 2013

Charlestown, RI 02813

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A Thin Veil

A Thin Veil
“It is Glory to have been tested, to have had our little quality
and to have cast our little spell.  A second chance, that’s the delusion……” (henry james)
During one of my favorite groups a patient who is well analyzed and a very capable man
said, “the one thing that we know about going down hill is that we can expect to pick up speed.”
It was a profound remark in light of the fact that we were discussing dementia
at the time.  As i thought about this statement it occurred to me there are many
life cycles to which this can apply.
Life goes by awfully quickly.  And the older that we get the more aware we become that life
is painfully short.  And when ever we start to go downhill, we become crucially aware that if
we don’t apply the brakes we will burst right through this thin veil of life and end up on some
other side where looking back appears to be impossible.
It started me thinking about anticipation and the way that some of us spend life looking
forward to tomorrow as if we expect it to be something other than today.  “That’s the illusion there
never was to be but one,” as Henry James continued.
There is no life than is different from this life.
Life “is” what it is.  Life is a force, a vitality, a kind of drive that carries us and pulls us and pushes us
in various directions, but always forward, until it begins to de-compensate…then it’s all downhill.
There is no reverse as we go bursting forth through the veil that hides the other side.
What this tells me, is that the most important thing that I can do for myself, and by extension
for my patients and loved ones, is to remind them to slow down.  What’s the hurry, you do know
how this ends, don’t you?  That’s right.  It ends.
To think that any of us want to speed up this process is absurd.  We do not know what we are asking
for when we say hurry up to anything.  Time is all that we have.  And Time is constructed by hu-mans
to remind us that there is no infinity.  And, if by chance there is an infinity it has nothing to do
with this life.  This life is finite.  Burst through that veil and what we know of life is over, finished, done
for good.  If there is another something, if there is a kind of re-organization to our cellular matter
it will not be one that we can bring our consciousness to.  Our consciousness ends with the end of this life.
To ask God, or the Universe to speed things up for us is very foolish.  So the next time that you find
yourself too busy or too important to deliberately pay attention to your consciousness, remember that
this consciousness that you take for granted will some day cease to exist and when your cellular matter
becomes a part of a glowing sunset, or it becomes the colors of a new dawn, or a piece of velvet moss covering
a woodland grove, you will not see it once you are it.  We see the dawn, only until we become it. There will be no
gratification to being a dawn.  You will not know you have been transformed.  And even as a million
school age children gaze in awe at the brilliant colors of life; when you can no longer gaze, all those eyes
upon your scattered matter will not thrill you a bit.
So, grab your consciousness and go gaze upon something that sends awe through your life while you
still have a life to send awe through.  The rest of that wonderful line by Henry James goes like this:
          We work in the dark, we do what we can.  We give what we have.
           Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task.
            The rest, is the madness of Art.
jester

The Ego & The Self: a conflict within

 

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.

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Le Coeur a ses raison que la raison ne connais pas

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Le Coeur a ses raison que la raison ne connais pas–the heart has its reasons that the reason can not know.  

It sounds like ancient history to some of us who have heard that phase many times.  But the truth is this:  the heart and the mind do not communicate, in fact they hardly know of each others existence.  It is like having a twin across the world that you never knew you had.

Discovering where and how the heart functions in the arena of mental health and in the arena of psychoanalysis specifically, is a job well worth undertaking.  Psychoanalysts are among the best trained people to take on this issue.  We are not the only people who know about this human dynamic, but we are among the top few disciplines that even consider the subjective to be scientifically understandable. 

Psychoanalysis has as its primarily mission the uncovering of unknown, knowns.  We specialize in following thought to where the thoughts originate both in the body and in the mind/brain matrix.  Eastern philosophies are also greatly equipped to search out the internal mechanisms that operate when we create a thought, and act on it. This very fact begins to encourage the future.  Thoughts, well before they become action, inform and encourage the future.  We are always at the cutting edge of our extension into life.

Thoughts and subsequent decisions are many times autonomically generated.  Like the other autonomic systems of the body, we have little consciousness of the steps that our bodies take to keep us alive.  The mind and the body function as one unit with a specific mission to keep ourselves from premature death and self-destruction.

However, if as adults we are formulating thoughts that have as their antecedent unconscious history, we may become at the mercy of exactly the very “thing” that we were wanting to avoid.  Humans are not constructed by blue-print the way computers are constructed.  We evolved more in the manner that a jungle evolves.  Tangled and snarled our neuro-pathways twist and curve to form connections with other aspects of the body.  The heart, as the most basic example of this fact, had to carve out its connection to the brain while still a young fetus.  Looking at this we might thinks that it should be time that we start understanding the intelligence of the heart.

We understand the intelligence of the brain, not very well yet, but certainly more than the neurology of Freud’s time understood.  The intelligence of the heart however is still greatly under studied.  I am sure that are many reasons for this, not the least of which is sciences own peculiar way of deciding what is appropriate content for its examination.  At the turn of the 20th century, dream analysis was considered content appropriate for gypsies and shamans.  Freud had much difficulty being accepted in the scientific community,

When a piece of our knowledge is heart-felt, we experience that knowledge with a sensation that is akin to wisdom.  The aha—aha moment, the slight tingle up and down the spine or the appearance of goose-bumps on your arms, these are indications that your body is registering a feeling or thought.  The ego on the other hand usually says something like, “Oh yea, I knew that”.

Learning to access heart-felt knowledge requires discipline in much the same way that exercising the body requires discipline, or in the way that meditation requires us to be actively deliberate about the process.

Also, because we are so identified with our thoughts, we find it hard to dismantle a thought we have been having over and over again for nearly a life time in some instances.  The further back in time that we can remember thinking a certain way indicates the extent to which the body and the mind will regress to maintain a hold on a thought.  We do not want to know if something that we think is not true.  In other words, the mind (ego) will fight the heart.

If the mind (ego) maintains a steady diet of winning, the heart will eventually “lose-heart” and give up trying to find the most effective way of experiencing our well-being. In time accessing the heart is not even a consideration as we have become hostage to our mental ruminations leaving little room for the instincts to run and play in a creative way.  Creativity, not necessarily fine-art, is the most effective measure of our vitality.  And, out vitality is a measure of our drive, our desires.  To exist with no heart-felt way to meet our dreams is to have given up on the basic human instincts.  We have abandoned our deep, richer selves to a corporate take over by the ego.

Heart-felt solutions are not difficult positions to take.  But heart-felt solutions will always be subject to the ego’s destructive nature.  If our anger is experienced as ineffective, it will stay in the body and attach itself to some psycho-semiautomatic condition.  

As we move forward in an analysis, we move inward as well as forward.  In many ways the internal universe is as ever expanding as the external universe; and as such it will always have a new outlook, a fresh take on the matter if we can learn to allow access to our hearts in the same manner that we have allowed access to our egos.

Does Your Heart Beat too Fast, Would Therapy Help?

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Do You Move Too Fast?  Is Therapy an Answer?
When you string one event on to the last one with no consciousness of the space between one event and the other, you fail to
get the sense that life is filled with billions of moments…little flashes in time that seem to accumulate into one large and
overwhelming question, Why?
Simply, because we do not know any other way, and commerce works better if we are unaware of the torture that speed can have on our
bodies.  The pace of our lives are determined by the mind.  I am proposing that we need to give equal time to the heart.
We all have heard of drastic plans to change our lives from what they are to what we would like them to be.  Frequently the mind
decides for us and it is not always ready to make changes.  You may have noticed that change is not appreciated by the mind despite
the chronic complaining that it does.  The mind want to remain in charge.
Civilization decided some time ago that the reasons of the heart are not important.  The higher reaches of the mind have been glorified.  With this super power reasoning “man was given dominion” over all of sentient life.  The earth and the animals are ours for the taking.  There are no longer fish in the sea, there is sea food in the vast oceans.  We think that resources are plentiful and will last forever.
Nothing last forever.  How did we forget that?
The moments of life can not be appreciated by the mind alone.  Feelings, emotions and sensations give quality to life.  They provide the sense of vitality that
fuels our drives, our libido, our desires.  Without a constant reminder that we need to STOP, stopping will not happen until we are exhausted, over-worked, over-committed and in general we might say that we have lost our connection to our heart-felt condition.
The stopping is the crucial element in well-being.  If we continue to string events one onto the other will fail to recognize that the information coming from the heart/body matrix is where our survival mechanisms live.  Survival lives in the heart.  The regulation of its beat is something that we have to take charge of, because the egoic mind is not interested in living well, it is only interested in competing, winning, remaining in the status quo and in general, it wants to stay in charge.  Like an over-reaching corporation with a maniacal CEO, the wealth of the company is more important that the lives that actually make up this company.
If we have a maniacal CEO running our bodies, it is time to fire the boss and look to the cast of supporting characters to learn what is needed to operate more smoothly, comfortable, with minimal stress and with a beating heart that reminds us moment to moment that the very important things in life are hidden in the shadow of the ego.
Therapy, Counseling, advise from a wise studied person can help us to get back onto the track that we are intended for…experiencing joy as a consequence of loving actions taken upon our loved ones and the world.  Stopping is not easy.  The mind will always call you back to its mission, being in charge.  We are like a large political machinery.  We want to win so that we can stay in charge, but all too frequently the energy is put into running the race, not in governing the organism.  Governing with perspective requires us to STOP and be aware of each transition, because each transition sets a new momentum into action.  Each transition encourages the future in its own way.
Help, on-line help, with friends help, or with the help of a professional spiritual guide, we can be reminded that the heart of the matter is to reduce our
beats to a manageable coherent way of life that provides not only opportunities for success, but opportunities for appreciation and gratitude.  The heart needs to be fed.  It loves to enjoy life–don’t deny it.

The Colors of the Wind

The Colors of the Wind

Moods change in a flash, at the drop of a hat. Expressions abound that exclaim the
manner in which something can stop on a dime. We are use to it. We think that a
mood has attacked us from the outside, but beware of the friendly defense that adopts
a posture to defend you; it has a mind of its own.

We have a divided mind and an ego that is split in two; and then, that little piece of machinery
sits in a vast ocean of consciousness that has ideas and drives and missions of its own. It is
no wonder that we feel avalanched by our own wisdom. Ambivalence is one of the most
difficult states to accept and to consider without taking an action. Ambivalence is a revolving
door with no exit.

Ambivalence is equally balanced like a perfect teeter-totter, it gently moves up and down
with seemingly no effort. The problem lies in making a decision out of such a perfectly balanced
set of options. Decisions are difficult, but when they are both characterized as various sides
of an egoic conflict, they are impossible.

Moods occur when a decisions needs to be made but the libido has no strength. With no libido,
no urge, not tendency in one particular direction, the energy seems to dissipate without an aim.
The mind is left with not a viable direction. It is told to go this way then that way with equal
force. The machinery of the ego is in neutral, stuck, unable to move without a pleasure to aim for.

The energy that sould have escaped from the body remains in the body and becomes a depression
or a psychosomatic illness. With enough of the energy remaining within, dangerous conditions
like cancer and heart conditions, or ulcers, or allergies can become the focal point of the ego within.

As humans we have developed and evolved an intricate network of neurons that conduct firings
everywhere and anywhere that we are able to let them fly. Of course, the well analyzed, the well
put together human has an advantage. That individual knows that all that needs to be done
is to tolerate the feeling without action and the feeling will pass. The energy will not attach
internally. It will remain available for pleasures and joys and successes out-side of itself.

Psychic energy has rules that it follows. Some of these rules are as old as the hills, while other
have become convenient only in the relatively short past. The idea of sin is an example of a rule that
may have out-run its usefulness to mankind. God no longer needs to categorize us into good and bad.
There are more useful ways of conducting morality then there were in the distant past.

However, it does remain necessary for man and woman to get along not only with each other
but with the earth and the other animals that it was allegedly given dominion over. In modern
day america, we have substituted money for values. The accumulation of a lot of money is
thought of as an individual right. I am not talking about the several million you have in
your IRA. I am talking about the multi-billion dollar industries who contrive to
discover any means of extraction that they can come up with to have you part with the little that
you have. Pills that literally cost an arm or a leg or a life.

Capital Crime is no longer punished. We only consider sin to be among the common folks,
among the indigenous of Detroit or the Bronx, or the migrant workers imported to pick a
crop then chased off the land because they have no papers. Sin is being poor. Crimes of
greed are let off the hook, because everybody knows an uncle who makes money. And the
political and corporate machinery knows of nothing except egoic thinking.

Thinking and feeling and knowing have become at a premium. The independent person
who is unhampered by his ego, or any other ego for that matter, is the person who has
become themselves; and money or no money they decide actions based on assessing what is
in their hearts. Heart-felt knowledge is gold. When we have arrived at the awareness that
all conflict is within and that all conflict is egoically based, we might strive to look for information
from the vast sea of consciousness that is equally ours to tap. The Heart-felt knowledge that
is capable as accessing joy and is able to part with love because they know that Love is and Action,
a verb, “to love” is the infinitive. Love is not a noun, not a place, thing nor person. It is an action
that when taken provides an immediate hit of joy.

the colors of the wind….watercolor digitally re-painted in iphoto

dr. albert dussault
mindfulness in psychoanalysis

web-site:
http://mindfulnessinpsychoanalysis.wordpress.com/

blog:
https://freeassociations.wordpress.com/

Heart-Felt Emotions

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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….