Category Archives: politics

The Intervention Fallacy: Part III, Freeing Yourself from the Cycle

This is the final installment of a three-part series.

http://www.patternreleaseenergetics.com

[The approach to self-healing that I use in my Pattern Release Energetics work is described in detail in my e-book, “Activate Your Inner Physician,” available through amazon.com, but this post is intended to summarize the principles behind it.]

Breaking the habit of intervention and re-learning how to heal oneself is–pardon the cliché—simple, but not easy. The first step, of course, is to stop intervening or allowing others to intervene whenever you have an uncomfortable, disturbing, or unfamiliar sensation, pain, emotional reaction, or obsessive thought. This at least gives you a chance to discover what experience is being short-circuited with intervention. Most often it’s an encounter with hidden beliefs, repressed memories, and unexpressed emotions.

Since we’ve taught ourselves to fear this encounter, we need a strategy to replace our default response of suppression, and develop a different relationship to pain and discomfort. We start by restoring the lines of communication between our bodies, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. These lines of communication are silenced over time as we’re socially conditioned to regard a human being as a compartmentalized phenomenon.

I teach people breathing and grounding to create a foundation for reestablishing this communication and encouraging the mechanism of expressive healing. These two tools provide a means to stay anchored while focusing on the symptom you’ve chosen to explore. Then you rotate your attention between all the physical sensations and emotional components that accompany the symptom, which might be described as a voluntary embracing of chaos.

This causes a type of tension to surface caused by the mind raising its resistance to examining the deeper sources of the symptom. Allowing this tension to build while staying grounded erodes the false compartments between body, thought, emotion, and sensations, and enables a freer flow of information between the conscious mind, the hidden self, and the physical body. By simply choosing not to suppress this experience, you are harnessing the healing forces inside you and encouraging them to interact until a resolution occurs.

This may feel very foreign at first, because in American culture we’re generally encouraged to resolve tension as quickly as possible, regardless of the context. The creative possibilities that non-resolution of tension engenders are unimaginable to the conscious mind, whose agenda is to choose either black or white and then rigidly defend whatever it’s chosen. In expressive healing, black and white are allowed to occupy the same space until they work it out and a third possibility reveals itself: healing. Tension and chaos are essential elements in expressive healing, and they are precisely what are trampled on with a suppressive approach. This is not a logic that can be reproduced by the intellect.

Another way of describing this approach is that it’s a way to make yourself vulnerable to yourself. Until you can do that, making yourself vulnerable to anyone else is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Vulnerability–the willingness to feel–is necessary to access whatever is trying to get our attention through disease, illness, pain, or dysfunction.

We like to think of ourselves as feeling beings, but until we’re actually asked to feel we don’t realize how profoundly intellectualized our experience of life has become. We say all the time that we want to feel more alive, but are we willing to experience what that really feels like after a lifetime of being programmed into a narrow band of feeling and self-expression? It’s not a stretch to imagine, for example, that your personal experience of feeling more alive might get you a diagnosis of bipolar disorder from certain mental health professionals.

Becoming a more feeling person doesn’t mean having one’s emotions spill all over the place at the drop of a hat. It involves being able to sense and honestly evaluate one’s internal state at any given time. Am I angry? Am I jealous? Is alcohol destroying my liver? Do I get a headache every time I visit my sister? Have I fallen out of love with my husband? Do I hold my breath when I talk to my boss?

Recovering one’s self-healing abilities is a solitary pursuit, because you’re not going to find much support for it out there. There is an unceasing exposure to elements that reinforce the intervention model, and the degree to which society attempts to keep a lid on our fundamental ability to heal ourselves is daunting, to say the least. If you do pursue it with some commitment, you’ll realize more and more how our culture’s approach to living one’s life is about suppression in practically every context you can imagine.

The point of all this is not to skate through life in some pain-free state or “tidy things up” emotionally. That’s a big part of the problem to begin with since tidying up suggests that certain emotions are unacceptable. It’s to observe, feel, acknowledge, and express. It’s a way to become more aware of why we do what we do, think what we think, and how that makes us feel on both a physical and emotional level. We can take the initiative to begin unwinding ourselves right now, or go with the flow and wait until life beats the crap out of us yet again, or we wait for the wake-up call of an emergency level of crisis.

 

The Intervention Fallacy: Part II, The Illusion of the Health Care Practitioner

http://www.patternreleaseenergetics.com

First, a few definitions.

Vulnerability: A willingness to feel. This applies to physical sensations as well as emotions. Without it, healing does not happen in this model.

Conscious mind: Everyday awareness. Some of its tasks are to categorize and label, interpret sensory data, and search for meaning. A few of its qualities are resistance to change, avoidance of chaos, fear of death, and a need to be right.

Hidden self: Those aspects of being human that the conscious mind judges as undesirable and hides from view. Whatever doesn’t correspond to the personality and image that the conscious mind wants to show the world is banished to the hidden self. This includes cultural and religious taboos, socially unacceptable attributes, unpleasant memories, and painful emotions

Wholeness: A human being’s fundamental yearning to merge the conscious mind with the hidden self to experience a greater range of expression.

Healing: A movement toward wholeness.

This series began with the statement, “All healing is self-healing.” So, where does the health care practitioner fit in?

A lot of what passes for health care is the equivalent of an athletic trainer who gives an injured player a painkiller injection and sends her back into the game. Nothing is done to address the acute or chronic injury/illness pattern, and the messages of the mind-body are totally disregarded through suppression.

Sometimes we’re sick or in pain because something inside us is trying to keep us out of the game, and will continue to do so until we get the message. Let’s say we’re working 12-hour days to avoid being alone with the pain of our divorce, and as a result we’ve got daily migraines. In that case, a practitioner who simply prescribes migraine medication is enabling our addiction to a lifestyle that’s literally making us sick. We’re all familiar with the custom of killing the messenger who brings unwelcome news, but the intervention model of health care kills the messenger before we even have a chance to hear the message.

Training or certification in any therapy or healing art only grants someone the possibility of participating in a person’s healing, to be in a position where others can make themselves vulnerable to him or her, and vice versa. Unfortunately, all the focus is on training, technique, and how many letters the practitioner has after his or her name. Because we’ve set it up this way, the only way we can recover our permission to heal ourselves is by getting it from someone else, again and again. If we really pay attention, though, we may eventually remind ourselves that there’s only one doctor, and it’s inside of us. Does this diminish the role of the practitioner? On the contrary, this is a very privileged position! It’s just that American culture doesn’t value the quality of the practitioner’s presence over a bloated resumé.

This leads us to the patient-doctor role playing exercise, which itself is based on a lie: that there is a broken one and one that does the mending. In reality, the practitioner is no less broken than the patient. The irony is that by expressing symptoms of illness and dysfunction the mind-body is functioning optimally to inform us that the hidden self is asking for expression or recognition. However, standard medicine sees only undesirable symptoms, which it describes as “ill health” and sets about eradicating. Actually, it is suppressive approaches to health care that cause someone to be broken in the sense that the normal communication of signals between the conscious mind and hidden self is rendered non-functional.

If a treatment is to result in anything other than suppression, then it requires what I call “neutral witnessing” on the part of the practitioner. Among other things, being a neutral witness requires the self-discipline to NOT try to fix someone when they’re not broken in the first place, to NOT reinforce the client’s attachment to their diagnosis, and to be willing to play the practitioner role while knowing at the same time that it’s an illusion. It requires that the practitioner be vulnerable herself so that the patient’s vulnerability might actually result in a movement toward wholeness. In short, there’s the potential for real honesty, a rarity in any given human interaction. This creates an equal possibility for healing of both patient and doctor, but don’t tell that to the billing department.

Illness, disease, or dysfunction is held in place by belief, and if doctor and patient agree (consciously or not) to stop maintaining the beliefs that are holding it in place, the illness pattern can come undone. However, if both parties agree only to validate the beliefs around the symptom, and treat the diagnosis as gospel rather than as a point of departure, then they forge an agreement as to what is “wrong,” thus holding the illness patterns in place.

Because of our conditioning around intervention, our conscious mind requires proof that an acceptable means of external stimulation is occurring. Hence, the role of the technique or medicine. In the setting of neutral witnessing, however, a healing technique is akin to a ritual, in that an intention is represented in form to distract the conscious mind so that the hidden self has an opportunity to reveal itself. If a person’s repressed guilt and chronic muscle pain are inseparably linked, those elements have to communicate with each other in order for expressive healing to take place.

It’s the quality of the practitioner’s presence that really counts and not the technique, technology, or medication. This is not a suggestion to fire all of your health care providers! All of us look for permission from others before we’ll grant it to ourselves, and a lot of us will never learn how to give ourselves that permission. However, the further we can break down the limitations created by artificial patient-practitioner roles, the more vulnerability will be possible between both participants, and the greater the chances for a true healing experience.

Next time: The Intervention Fallacy: Part III, Breaking the Cycle

The Trap of the Politically Correct Mindset

Under the guise of respect for diversity, we have quietly cleansed American culture of any chance for honest public discussion around race, sexuality, gender, class, or any other distinguishing feature that would differentiate one person from the next. Political correctness is one of those cultural phenomena that cause us to shake our heads and think, “This must’ve seemed like a good idea at some point.” And then it becomes another cobblestone in the rickety road to hell.

The disconnect between what is allowed in public conversation or discussion and how we talk in private behind closed doors has reached an unprecedented level of absurdity. The PC mindset is a form of mental and emotional conditioning that accomplishes the exact opposite of its implied intention, resulting in divisiveness rather than unity. It is the literal embodiment of the “thought police” from Orwell’s 1984. PC behavior is what passes for respect in a society that wants to show how accepting it is, but is not really interested in honest connection between individuals, because that’s too dangerous.

PC is a brand of censorship uniquely suited to American sensibilities because of our persistent belief that we are the good, decent ones who won WWII, the protectors of democracy, the white knight of the western world, and the caretakers of a Disneyland where anyone can be anything they want to be. We instinctively know that the iron-fisted oppression of free expression and activism exemplified by the Russian, Chinese, or North Korean approach to censorship, for example, would never fly here. But, give us Americans a strategy to gag ourselves that can be justified as compassionate and democratic, and we’re all in.

It has become such a morass that it’s difficult to tell whom, if anyone, exactly benefits from the perpetuation of PC: Groups who want to retain the advantages of victim status? Prominent individuals or organizations that want to strengthen their façade of being the champion of the oppressed?

Guilt and shame are possibly the strongest elements that can sustain an intensely polarized situation, outside of an overt threat of physical violence. PC utilizes guilt and shame with a surgeon’s skill, playing on our secret fears that we’re not actually the good, honest, virtuous people that we hoped we were, but in fact that we’re just like everyone else. If we tow the PC line, though, we can at least fool ourselves and perhaps others that we are those guiltless beings of light.

Like everyone, I spent most of my life cherry-picking which thoughts I accepted as “my own” and which ones were “something else that wasn’t me” in order to create an identity I could bear. Eventually, though, it stopped making sense that the bad, evil people were always over there. I would find myself watching the news and continually asking, “Who are these fucking people who think it’s okay to believe in white supremacy, or think it’s okay to fire someone because he’s gay?” Eventually, the extremely uncomfortable answer was, those people are me!

Now, if I’m honest about the totality of what I see in myself, I see a homophobe, a racist, a misogynist, a misanthrope, a classist, and any other clichéd type of prejudice that can be imagined. And if there’s one I haven’t found yet, it’s just because I haven’t looked hard enough. And if anyone who’s reading this thinks they are not in the same boat, then they are deluding themselves.

PC encourages the suppression of thoughts that we don’t want to accept as our own, and beefs up our need to punish others for those very same thoughts so that we don’t have to look at them within ourselves. This is what creates the world in all its brutal duality. If these thoughts are not ours and don’t reflect our own nature and beliefs, then whose are they and how did they get into our heads? If we keep our taboo thoughts buried in the unconscious, then we can sustain the illusion of our innocence in it all. And that’s how history repeats itself ad nauseam.

Our social conditioning encourages us from the moment we slide out of the womb to choose a very narrow definition of who we think we are, and defend it until we die. That necessarily includes choosing what thoughts we’ll regard as our own. Rarely, if ever, are we presented with the alternative of acknowledging thoughts and acting out behaviors that seem to contradict each other. This could be superficially dismissed as hypocritical, but in fact it is just the opposite. We can weigh all the aspects that reside within us and go with what our heart decides, instead of choosing one side and going with what our mind decides.

Very few people buy into the idea that more you acquaint yourself with your own prejudices, the greater is your capacity for true compassion and acceptance. We simply don’t trust that a human being is capable of doing the right thing while consciously recognizing his or her judgments of others.

Unfortunately, the willingness and ability to witness all these conflicting forces and influences would be labeled by a lot of people as mental illness, instability, or at least a reason to see a shrink. Our mental health system would pathologize what is a normal and necessary recognition and expression of the vast range of a person’s mental and emotional being. Rather than expand our recognition of who and what we are, we’re told to change the way we think, when it reflects traits or beliefs that are deemed undesirable. It’s another exercise in contraction rather than expansion, because we stubbornly believe we have a choice in being who we are.

I feel this begins with a standard for human behavior that is embarrassingly over-inflated. It’s one of those “despite all evidence to the contrary, we still believe . . .” moments. It’s abundantly clear on both gross and subtle levels that one of our fundamental challenges as human beings is to live our lives from a place other than fear and survival. Look at how we behave even when our situation far exceeds having met our most basic survival needs. Yes, we’re quite capable of many admirable qualities, but we’re often chasing and appreciating only those, and in the process completely denying the messy ones even as they’re played out on the grandest stage possible. We want to clean up everything about ourselves, while we destroy the planet in the meantime.

The best we can hope for in a lot of situations is tolerance, not love, or even acceptance. But tolerance is a quality that is often not valued. No, we expect humanity to leapfrog right from bigotry and hatred to love, acceptance, and understanding, and anything less is unacceptable. This is way beyond a reasonable expectation. And, because being tolerant just isn’t enough, then we get to feel guilty about that as well.

All of us believe that the world should accept us for who we are, and on the surface it seems like a reasonable request. However, as individuals we often struggle with accepting ourselves for who we are, and we can’t count on others to do it for us. Look at your family and friends and see how many are on antidepressants, sleeping aids, or in rehab. It can be a painful process to become who we really are in this world because we know it may result in not being accepted.

The degradation of language is another aspect of PC that makes it so insidious. There’s no better example currently than the use of the word “racist.” In the past, as I recall, the word was used to describe a person or policy based on racial prejudice that prevented one from freely living one’s life. This included where you could work, live, or socialize, and included physical violence, verbal threats, and segregation.

These days the definition of the word has been expanded to include anyone who even has thoughts of racial prejudice, which includes all of us. This causes us to feel even more guilt and repress our own prejudices, and focus our efforts toward finding the “real racists.” This arbitrariness of the word “racist” is incredibly dangerous because the word has lost none of its incendiary nature yet is meaningless at the same time, which means it can be manipulated to serve any purpose and create instant reaction and action. There is no reference point anymore for what a racist is, so we are looking behind every bush and around every corner to find them. It is awfully reminiscent of Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare tactics.

We don’t even know from week to week what words are acceptable, and so any public discourse becomes increasingly artificial and constrained because of the fear of offending and being labeled as insensitive at best, and at worst a racist. This results in even more resentment of minorities and special interest groups because they’re given special protection from language, and we have to navigate a verbal minefield to have any meaningful discussion.

It also dulls our ability to recognize actual racism because so many false examples are thrown in our faces daily, and the over-saturation and mental exhaustion causes us to lose our capacity for empathy. Rather than opening a discussion, PC language is intended to immediately identify the victim and oppressor, polarize the situation, and prohibit any further discussion of substance. The language loses its meaning and people stop listening.

Recently this was driven home to me by the headline, “Oprah Claims Obama is Target of Racism.” Now, how much focus can I spare for one person who makes many millions of dollars for simply giving her stamp of approval to products and productions, and another who has the power to give a verbal command to blow my house up with a drone? Even after someone has clearly amassed the maximum power and influence that this country allows, can they still play the victim card whenever they see fit, despite the fact that their capacity for retaliation is practically limitless? Is victimhood a lifetime membership in a club or is it defined by a moment in time? Isn’t this disrespectful to the plight of those whose lives are being severely limited as the result of racial discrimination, or who face a threat of violence every day and are comparatively powerless to oppose it?

We’re making victimization a form of empowerment. If we don’t think there are distinct advantages to being regarded as a victim, then we’re being truly naïve about human nature. When a single word can be wielded to cause someone to lose his or her job or cause a company to go broke, it replaces personal responsibility and dialogue with the verbal equivalent of a handgun.

PC also perpetuates the lie that there is a rational fix for prejudice, and that all we need to do is think the right way, have the right exposure to people and circumstances, and then we’ll see the light. In reality, though, we acquire so many of our beliefs from family, friends, culture, tradition, education, and other unknown sources, that it is largely impossible to discern where we’ve come to believe what we do. In fact, prejudice is the epitome of irrationality, and that is one major reason for its confounding persistence.

We cannot simply tell people “don’t think like that” or “it’s wrong to believe that,” because any one individual has to come to those conclusions from his or her own experience. It can actually worsen our resentment when we’re instructed to think a different way and we don’t even know why we think that way in the first place. It doesn’t make sense to us that we judge people the way we do even without having a personal experience of them, so it becomes an additional source of shame.

Prejudice is largely a reflection of self-loathing, so expecting such an approach to work is like asking someone why they can’t simply love and accept themselves. When it comes to loving and accepting oneself, we’re talking about a very bumpy road that takes a lifetime to travel if indeed it ever happens at all.

We can legislate against discrimination but not against prejudiced thinking. It’s incredibly important to legislate against discrimination because we can show ourselves that we will at least take responsibility for fairness at some level, regardless of whether we’re willing to explore our own prejudices or not.

It’s incomprehensible to me why anyone would purposely pursue fame in America anymore, since the PC thought police have clearly made celebrities a prime target to use as high profile scapegoats. How many times have we seen this occur in the last five years or so? Here’s how it goes. If you follow a celebrity around long enough, you’ll catch them in a verbal misstep that you can hear on any street corner or bar, made even more possible nowadays by Twitter. Then the quote is immediately made public, mortification ensues, and then the contrite and humbled celebrity makes his or her public apology. Then there is the race among the so-called experts as to who’ll proclaim this a “teaching moment,” and thus has legitimacy and importance been bestowed upon an offhand remark.

This happened recently to Serena Williams, who had the misfortune to suggest publicly that a 16-year-old girl might bear some responsibility in not getting drunk out of her mind while being in the company of a group of horny teenage boys. Then came the mortification, and right on cue, the public apology.

The tentacles of PC are now spreading to silencing comedians, such as Tracy Morgan, Michael Richards, and Chris Rock. The most recent whipping boy was Steve Martin, who unfortunately caved and made his public apology. There is a very real danger to a free society in censoring comedians, because we rely on them to give voice to a lot of our cultural taboos under the rubric of “entertainment.” Without this, we lose a critical pressure release valve on the collective suppression of our socially unacceptable selves.

With our government’s increased surveillance of our daily activities, the PC nightmare will not get any better any time soon. One word in an email, blog, or a facebook post and you’re done. May as well learn how to life your life in a state of constant exposure and vulnerability. We are so afraid of who and what we are in so many different contexts it’s very difficult to know how an unfettered human being might act. Maybe it will lead some of us to a state of simply not caring about protecting ourselves anymore. Wouldn’t that be something?