Agency as Feeling Awareness
Shamans of antiquity, modern day neuroscience, quantum physics and my own direct experience all point to the fact that we dream our world into being. Our experience of our world appears as a reflection of our own embodiment. What we consistently focus our attention upon becomes our habits of thought (beliefs). What we consistently avoid feeling, becomes the primary basis of our mistaken identity. Identity concretizes through repression of emotion, breath, and life force. We lose our vitality and power to recognize that we always have agency, when we unconsciously make this choice over and over again. Innocently, sometimes this choice is the only choice that we can make to survive. There is another way. It’s called feeling with awareness or feeling awareness. I will unpack what I mean by this.
A Context for Healing
The journey of genuine transformation does not emerge in isolation; the presence of consistent support, true company and loving contact in the places that are yearning for integration is a vital key. For the purpose of simplicity, we could use a working definition of trauma as any experience of deep isolation. When we block our life force and cut off from feeling our direct, immediate experience- we disconnect from our authentic selves. This is inherently isolating. For most of us, the original distortions of our life force as well as the ensuing misperceptions of our identity came about through the failures of our early developmental environments. Meaning they came about in a relational context. When we do not experience being seen, supported and attuned to, or even worse- we are neglected or abused in our early years of life, we foreclose our natural life force and retreat to an inner world of various coping strategies to manage and survive the pain of this. Ouch- again, inherently isolating.
What I have seen in my own journey as well as working with hundreds of people over the years is that this tendency towards isolation as a coping strategy is strong. It can become the basis of a deep and abiding stubborn spiritual bypass. We innocently assume that the only way through our pain is by giving it all to God, even if your God of choice is atheism. At a certain point in the journey, one finally realizes the futility of this approach and surrenders into the fact that we cannot do this alone.
For me it took moving myself across the ocean, thousands of miles away from everyone that I was connected with. I spent a year by myself, taking this approach of isolation and the underlying belief that I could do this thing called my life, alone. I amped up the suffering of this pattern to the 9th degree such that I could actually see and feel it for what it is. In this way, the intelligence of the design, turned around to reveal its opposite. In my case, I have had to not only admit that I need connection to “other humans” but that my very joy, health, and thriving connection to being alive depends on it.
Have you noticed similar versions of this in your own life?
What I have come to take a stand in is that a relational, neuro-affective, safe and trustworthy, corrective context is what is needed to rediscover our intrinsic wholeness once again. Through developing newfound safety and trust with “other”, we can actually rediscover a healthy relationship with our essential aloneness or autonomy that is not an over –compensation leading to isolation.
The Crux of the Human Dilemma
Intergenerational trauma is a given for all of us on some level, which has contributed to the crux of the core human dilemma. In the Neuro- Affective Relational Model, we call this the intra-psychic conflict. Simply put, it has been handed down over time, modeled and carried in our DNA the unconscious storyline, that in order to be in connection with another, means losing connection with oneself. If being authentic and true to our aliveness (feeling awareness) will threaten our attachment bond in any way, we will cut off from that aliveness in order to maintain that bond. When we are little beings, to threaten that bond means to threaten our very survival. This sets up the foundation of where we leave ourselves- our direct feeling experience in order to maintain the “outside”. We all have our share of this collective karma to metabolize.
Add to this equation the inevitable shock traumas (sudden accidents, loss, physical and emotional pain) that we experience along the way that rob us of our innocent trust in Life, God, and other, as well as ourselves. Without this essential trust it is very difficult for a system to repair and come back to its natural baseline of resources. The tendency in human beings is to internalize this broken trust and introject that, “I am bad, wrong, deficient or lacking in some way.” This continues to further fragment, disempower and create perceptions of reality that are self-deprecating. The constricting mental/emotional energies follow. The biology reciprocates in response to this inner climate of stress and this negative feed back loop can go on infinitely taking one further and further away from their center of truth. This becomes a kind of black hole, depleting ones sense of self worth, robbing more and more energy from the system to the point of creating addictions, ill health and mass destruction if it keeps going. The more symptoms, the more we know there is deep emotional/biological incompletion in the system that is desperately calling out to be resolved. The longer this goes on, the more the person becomes identified with, “this is who I am”.
It becomes a crisis of mistaken identity. This is the greatest tragedy that I see these days, in that our culture also feeds on this vulnerable state. We cannot interrupt this feedback loop with mental concepts, spiritual platitudes or more consumerism! Have you noticed how incredibly annoying, unsatisfying and only further isolating it is when you try to feed yourself (or someone else does-) something of this manner, when what you truly want is some authentic empathy and true company?
A Psycho-Spiritual Somatic Approach
The truth is, there is nothing inside your experience that cannot be met with love, kindness, warmth and respect. While you are learning how to offer this unconditional dignity to yourself, consider that what you may need most is some loving, wise company of true presence. These rejected, judged, isolated places that you have not learned how to love and evolve through yet, will continue to generate a feeling that something is wrong, wounded or missing. On the contrary! That which feels blocked, stuck and unwanted is exactly what is needed to reveal the door to your magic.
You just need a safe place to feel all the way through the emptiness of the black hole such that you can flourish and bring forth what is alive within these apparent obstructions. Sometimes opening the door alone is too scary. It’s akin to being in the dark alone with the boogieman under the bed to our inner child selves. Sometimes we need another to turn on the light and look with us to see what is actually underneath the bed. Eventually- you can create enough safety and trust that you can provide this for yourself.
Maturing into your embodied wholeness and more objective adult awareness and integrating “your story”- by making medicine of your traumas, losses and mis-attunements in life requires growing your capacity to stay present with a larger range of sensory perceptions, feelings and core emotions. The more you grow this capacity; your core resources reveal themselves as the new baseline. Connection, attunement, trust, autonomy and a healthy love/sexuality/aliveness emerge.
No matter how intense your trauma or unresolved history, I have seen over and over again that there is a dimension of being where our inherent dignity, sovereignty and connection to our True Nature abide. We must tap into this source spring inside the core of the body. Allowing the undernourished and fragmented aspects of self that have been so busy surviving and compensating- to come home to the unconditional warmth in the core where our True Nature is most tangibly felt.
The art of this approach rests in staying awake to the tendency to use our spirituality to bypass and further disassociate from the hurts and misses of the past that have continued to color the present, while simultaneously not falling into the trap of over-identifying with the perceptions of self, other and world that have come about through these grievances.
I will support you in exploring the primacy of your essential ground of safety and trust through feeling awareness in which you can grow the internal circuitry required to tap into the presence of your deepest truth, your adult –present time, objective awareness.
It is my pleasure and true honor to hold your hand as you cross that tenuous bridge from mental concepts and future projections into a fully embodied sense of reality that can be tangibly felt in the living now. We will bring our loving attention to anything that appears to be blocking the way as you turn toward embodying the light and power of your soul essence. In this way, you discover the agency (your ability to be at choice, rather than in reaction based on history) that has always been your birthright. It is from this place of agency and connection to your core self- feeling awareness that you are able to co-create with Spirit the Life that you know you were born to Live. This is the beginning of living beyond karma and discovering how to fully participate as an embodied co-creator in the Living Now. Our future depends upon this.