strong medicine

The automatic, natural contact …

emotion

… with his own emotions and needs gives an individual strength and self-esteemAlice Miller

Over two years ago I made a personal commitment to healing.

It seems that some force took that pledge to heart because my life & health since then seems to have been a long series of …

vomiting-out-the-past

… eruptions & expulsions
of corpses.

I never want to go through that again, but nor would I be without what I have learned.

I want to share one technique that has changed my experience of life.

I have certainly done nothing braver in my whole adult life
than this technique.

In 2011 I began a programme aimed at healing CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). Although I still have the condition, the programme was a godsend.

The technique (which I carefully avoided for many months) involves sitting with pain or …

pain

… painful emotions,
for a period of twenty minutes every day.

This ‘sitting with‘ could be likened to inviting “it” in for …

tea

… afternoon tea & biscuits.

For twenty minutes it sits on your sofa & owing to the fact that you have neglected & abandoned it for years, it smells, looks & feels …

afeared

… really, really bad.

At first it can feel more death-defying than tight-rope walking Niagra Falls

Twenty minutes can feel unbearable.

It burns.

For me the results of developing this ability to sit with pain have been monumental.

I can still recall where I was in my kitchen when I realised that feelings of horror & dread were a daily occurrence for me.

Without warning they would arrive.

Without thought I would enact one of the many

on the run again

… evacuation procedures,
I had put in place over the years.

But none of this was conscious until that day in my kitchen.

I guess by then, I had been practicing sitting with painful feelings just long enough to allow a small window to appear & when that day’s horror feelings washed onto my shores I saw them & felt them, as if for the first time.

They were intimately familiar, total strangers.

I had known & not known them.

The ‘why’ of these feelings does not matter here, but my freezing them out of consciousness, does.

Perhaps one day we will understand the brutal cost of …

frozen

… emotional glaciation.
But we cannot afford to sit back and wait.

On that day in my kitchen I realised that I had already created a choice.

The choice to unfreeze.

So I began to consciously sit with these feelings of dread & horror. At first, there was a strong revulsion as they sat on my sofa, took up ‘my’ time, slurped tea & dropped soggy biscuits, I wanted the twenty minutes to hurry up & ‘dissolve them’.

All I can say now is, that each time I invited them in, it got easier.

Actually along the way my whole life got easier. Every so often I was startled to discover that something that once felt like it was pulling the flesh from my bones, now had no effect on me.

As you spend more time with these feelings, it can be shocking to notice that their intensity is not that strong. This is a real wtf moment – because the urgency to avoid these feelings is GIGANTIC, yet the feeling itself can be …

tiny

… almost minuscule
in comparison.

I think it must be like the elephant tied with a piece of string trick. Our feelings are so condensed within us, that the merest shake of one strand has us at panic, or battle, stations.

When I pay attention to my personal feelings of horror, they are almost always in the left side of my body.  They do not ‘hurt’. They have a very strong link to my senses – so that it feels like I’m looking at something horrible, smelling something putrid & eating something rotten all at the same time. My face contorts with this ‘sensual’ repulsion. But that is often the totality of it.  All my energy then goes into taking …

evade

… “evasive action
to get away from this or that feeling.

That’s it really, I jut wanted to give you a tool that someone gave me.

So potent is it for me now, & often so strangely welcome & comforting, that I can ‘take tea’ with these feelings for up to an hour at a time.

I know that this allowing of emotion is changing something big time inside me, I am curious as to where I am travelling, but content for now just to keep doing the work, because I’ve had enough of exhaustion & disconnection.

If you do decide to give this a go just try to feel the feeling. Once you have connected with it in your body, let go of any meaning – no matter how righteous the ‘reason’ might be, when you invite your feelings in for afternoon tea, there is no room for justification – there needs to simply be you spending real time with these ‘messy, unloved, (non-carnivorous), monsters.’

It takes practice & courage, but the rewards will be all yours.

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September 7, 2013. Uncategorized.

27 Comments

  1. Max replied:

    Thanks for sharing, Alex.

    • alex robinson replied:

      of course :) I am going somewhere new, an invitation to fellow travellers goes without saying

  2. serpentchannelzero replied:

    Thank you; as I so often find with your articles, the timing is staggeringly relevant to my own journey. I am both terrified and excited to implement this practice.

    • alex robinson replied:

      Ah mr serpent you made me smile with your honesty.
      It is terrifying at first, you can feel like you will be destroyed, but you will not.

      Next time you notice something that is starting to churn inside, choose that, sit with that. Think of the twenty minutes as the time it takes to ‘warm it up enough’ so that it can begin to move – these feelings according to the man I followed, are trapped energy – our conscious awareness helps it begin to soften & flow.

  3. Susan replied:

    Hi Alex –

    Do you ever spend 20 minutes sitting with happy feelings?

    I notice that you receive a great amount of energy and creativity from pain. In my experience what I give my attention to is what I get more of in my life. Focus of attention seems to be very powerful.

    As Edward De Bono explained – we find what we are looking for.

    Susan

    • alex robinson replied:

      Susan, this is a prime example of everything I have just written about. If you had spent 20 minutes sitting with whatever feelings came to the surface as you read my article you might have begun something important in your life. Instead you took ‘evasive action’ via your comment – it is exactly this sort of trite, ‘be happy’ crap that keeps people who are in desperate pain locked in their private hells – because if they try to speak of their legitimate feelings they get made fun of. Then their truth is forced to emerge via illness, accident or repeating trauma.

      Have you ever sat with happiness for twenty minutes and noticed that it is nothing like we are told it is? I have. I also sat for twenty minutes with the feeling of anger your comment aroused – and my anger taught me something.

  4. chiller replied:

    This is a very good practise Alex, i have been doing some similar thing , sitting with myself and thoughts and body , no distractions.
    i have noticed most people cannot really do this , they are addicted to distraction from tv, music, other people what is called being ”social, outgoing happy , exrtravert”, puttin on a ‘fake’smile and laughing like the fools around you does not make you a truly happy person, its just superficial.
    we have been conditioned by shows like ”friends” that social full-fill-ment is
    the end all of what you can achieve and need. And other tvprograms condition us that ”loners” are dangerous and evil people.
    it is all meant to let you never go inside , but stay on the surface hell on the boundary of yourself and others.

    You are right, daily reflection is like a medicinal excercise to reconnect to source and prevent futher disconenction from you body’s and mind’s personal subjective reality, wich should be the main point from wich to engange the world at large.

    • alex robinson replied:

      Well said chiller and I’m glad to hear you are taking a similar path. I am continually finding new benefits – one is simply an ability to ‘slow down’ – that feeling that you usually only get on holiday.

      I’ve also written about the way the media have made ‘loners’ into dangerous people – loners, quite often are alone because they have the ability to slow down & wander & wonder while everyone rushes by on the latest media-decided quest – who is really more dangerous?

  5. Michael Skaggs replied:

    Amazingly descriptive. I’m pretty darned sure I’ve done this recently in the quiet (well whatever quiet you can get in the damn city). Your right, that instinctive evasive “fight or flight” seems to kick in. Can’t wait to give it more focus! Thank you deeply for sharing.

    Cheer my friend.

  6. Stephanie cordelia butler replied:

    compassion

    • alex robinson replied:

      Cheers Stephanie, compassion could be a good way to look at this – the ability to take time & sit with our own abandoned emotions is an act of great self-compassion

  7. Max replied:

    Regarding the “fight or flight” response there is one further reaction to be mentioned which I “choosed” when beeing in direct conflict with others:

    Refering to emotions:
    It’s always the same. People say things like “You don’t need to be afraid” as if this would take the fear away. Why can’t we show that we are in a “negative” mood? I got used to say that I am doing well when asked about how I feel, although this wouldn’t be the case. Such an answer simply serves to indirectly convey that I want to be left alone and to imply to the asking person that he or she doesn’t need to bother.

    • alex robinson replied:

      Hello Max, I think sitting with emotions, is a way of warming them up – wouldn’t want you to freeze :)

      If you showed that you were in a negative mood, you would quite likely scare people & then they might start to wonder if you were a loner …

      You must remember to always smile – actually that must be a real mind-fuck for our bodies – there they are trying to alert us to something or someone troubling to us & we plaster a smile on our faces & pretend to be happy about it – our bodies must think we are nuts!

  8. Tom replied:

    Alex,

    Have been checking in on your writings for a number of months. The synchronicity of it all is astounding. Now I understand. You are a practitioner. You get it. Thank you.

  9. tpems replied:

    Hi Alex –

    Long ago the person I loved the most was taken from me. I spent the next thirty years being very focused on my feelings of grief, rage, and horror. I didn’t just have them over for tea, I invited them to move in. My life was all about anger, loneliness and longing for what was not.

    Then someone gave me a different direction – the practice of appreciating the “grace of the moment” whatever that moment may be.

    It takes effort to find the positive. Despair and resentment are much, much easier to access. It took a while, but my life opened up.

    In “Lord of the Rings” there is a scene at the end when Sam and Frodo are stranded on a rock and Sam remembers the taste of strawberries, even in this most dreadful time. That was the “grace of the moment”.

    I wish that you could spend 20 minutes being pleased (not happy!) that someone you have never met, on the other side of the world, has been reading and enjoying your writing for a long time, and has been moved to respond. Not as part of the “cheering section”, but as honest feedback from my own experience, in the spirit of giving something of myself back to you.

    “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with intent of throwing it at someone else – you are the one who gets burned”. (Buddha)

    Susan

    I

    • alex robinson replied:

      Hello Susan
      I see we are not on the same page & that is fine. I am sorry for your loss.

      I did write recently about anger being ‘relaxation’ – real anger is a very powerful, positive emotion, that can be life-saving. It has been saving my life & will remain a cherished friend to me.

      If I was simply writing for myself, I might not have felt as I did about your comment, but because this work I do is also to help others who live lives of silent desperation, I felt the need to call your words out. Perhaps I did not read them as you intended. I put countless hours, days & weeks into each article doing everything I can to share different ways of looking at things. Everything is considered intensely from many different angles. If I ever felt I was doing harm I would stop writing. You are free to tell people here, including myself, what ‘you’ find useful but let it rest there – we all need to create our own paths.

  10. suliwebster replied:

    Very beautifully expressed, thankyou. I have been through a similar healing path myself which was essential to stop the demons eating away at my energy. I didn’t know there was a “method”, it was just somethng I stumbled across as the only way through. I saw it as taking the demons out of their box from time to time, giving them a good sort out, and putting them back. That way they never got to burst out at unwanted moments. I stayed in control. The demons diminished. And I got well again.
    In response to another commenter, this may appear as if I court misery, but I am by nature a cheerful person and this has regained me my joy in life.

    • suliwebster replied:

      I have just realised that I am subconsciously using this very same method, when entering into “conspiracy world”. It is scary to start with, but as I get to know it better, I can dip in and out when I choose, and it is no longer something I constantly try and camoflage with layers and layers of pretend modern living, or try and run away from.

    • alex robinson replied:

      Wonderful, thanks for that because it helps others who read these comments.

      I agree that it does not make you miserable at all – I would liken it to how children allow their emotions to express themselves in their reality & then they ‘lightly’ go back to playing.

      That sounds like good sense in your approach. I know that I travel farthest & fastest with the ‘lightest’ of touch & the readiness to shift tracks, no matter how tempting, at the flick of new information or thought play

  11. lee replied:

    “we plaster a smile on our faces & pretend to be happy about it – our bodies must think we are nuts!”

    Yes, they do quite often. While im probably stating the obvious, this bit of social conditioning and fakery can quite literally make us sick through the disconnect it creates

  12. Max replied:

    I just drop this here because it’s 20 minutes long:

    Mueran Humanos – La Langosta (Video by Trino)

    Does my action make sense? I don’t know. If it makes you angry then anti-kudos to me.

    Anyway, this inviting thing is difficult for me. I guess that you can’t force it. You certainly have to wait until your guests arrive and then endure them for 20 minutes, if I understood correctly. They won’t arrive immediately.

    The currently only possible way for me is waiting until those negative emotions knock spontaniously on my door and then deciding if I let them in.

    We still keep up with the challenges, aren’t we?

    • chiller replied:

      i have found in with myself, that temporary or permanent changes in what substances ( i group food together with herbs and drugs) enter the body.

      after i quit coffee and alcohol and excercise for a few weeks recently, i really started feeling pains i did not feel before. i endured them, and as a did not reach back for safety , i got feedback from my body in the form of thoughts, and in dreams. also some lucid dreams in wich i consciously took charge of the dream by affecting it with my actions.

      i also drastically increased intake of ripe fruits.

      i really felt sick radiating from deep inside to the extremities.

      and i feel that the same goes for anny patterns we have build our lives and energyfield around.

      activities,passivities,socializing,antisocializing, enganging, withdrawing, going outward, going inward, eating,fasting, talking, silencing , feeling, not feeling, denial, acceptance, etc….

      sometimes by peeling away a certain layer, hidden substrata become touchable. it can be confronting though, especially in the emotions.

      • alex robinson replied:

        I agree too that can be very confronting – that’s why training ourselves to sit with discomfort is so important – you can’t climb your mountains if you haven’t built up strength & stamina – you just end up exhausted & feeling defeated – yet it is doable & the real life changes & the view it offers make it eminently worth it.

  13. alex robinson replied:

    Twenty minutes is quite an excellent length of time.

    I’m going to write an additional piece that will hopefully be of use. No force is used, it’s getting used to noticing what you are feeling at any particular time & connecting with it instead of diverting or dulling.

    Fuck yes the changes & challenges are rolling :)

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