I said I was going to write more about the ancestors, and I shall. But not today. Today all I can write about is pain.
Soft blobs of sensations squeezing themselves up and out of my oesophagus, beyond understanding. They often announce themselves this way, without warning, save in the traces of a slow internal coiling when I place my attention intensely, obsessively, elsewhere. The longer the absence from self, the more costly the re-admission. Today it is steep. I’ve been promoting the upcoming Spirituality workshop in London and, ironically, losing myself in the process!
Although hard, what a relief to come back to now. And breathe… As I surrender to this prickly re-presencing the pain drifts closer towards that mysterious, imaginary dividing line with pleasure. Pain becomes sensation, becomes experiencing, becomes body, becomes incarnation – the one true indication of being alive. Thought is, blessedly, relegated to the sidelines, right-sized.
As I write, this connection comes in and ebbs out. I notice and re-orient. I forget and drift. It’s the unending dance of existence in duality – our birthright to manage and master as we please.
For many years, of course, I’ve been following the thread of dysfunction that lies like a fractured faultline through my personality, pulling me away from this presence. The aspect that, despite my blessings and bounty, can perceive only darkness and bring only ruin in an ill-advisable attempt to escape itself. Why was it that I needed to damage myself and others so to wake up?
Genetic inheritance – maybe. Behavioural patterns gone barmy – yes. Stemming from emotional regulation gone wrong – yes. Stemming from attachment-based “first world trauma” – yes. And yet, though the knowledge helps, it doesn’t solve. Structure stabilizes. Awareness assists. Expression opens. But once the major behavioural changes have taken place and a certain occupation of the self has established itself – then – only living the unprocessed pain allows a repatterning, a resolution. How do you live it?
In meditation I began to encounter a sense of falling. It was terrifying. Like there was no ground beneath me and if I kept going I’d fall foverever, lose myself for all time…dissolve into darkness. It was accompanied by white noise, so terrifying that it has taken me years to face. Slowly, as I’ve stabilized in myself, I’ve been able edge closer to that terrible sound. White noise has given way to screams of intense desperation. A baby, so distressed that nothing can calm it. No wonder I wanted to obliterate my awareness. http://www.aims.org.uk/effectDrugsOnBabies.htm
The development of the psyche, the self, is so mysterious. I remember when I began my own healing process and then began studying it also, I would hear theories that early experiences, including birth and even in utero, could have huge impacts on individual development. I understood it but I couldn’t feel the truth of it. In truth I dismissed it, perhaps advisably, as it wasn’t relevant to my level of development at the time. Then, it was about learning how to stop self-destructive behaviours, acknowledge feelings and learn emotional intelligence.
But recently I’ve been blessed with another piece of the jigsaw puzzle falling into place. On the Journey at Embercombe – an excellent, grounded immersion into self-exploration in service to finding one’s purpose – the part of me that makes these decisions felt safe enough to loosen the armour that bit further. I had understood that my birth was problematic. I had been told that my mother was injected with pethidine shortly before my birth, and that I came out blue and needed to be put in an incubator for some time afterwards. But I’d never felt any connection with that event. In an exercise I found myself falling surrounded by darkness, and the felt sense was of extreme loneliness. The sadness and fear were crippling – there was no one to greet me, no one to hold me, no one to let me know that it would be alright. Just darkness. Just falling.
I was able, magically, to experience the falling, the screaming, the terror, from the perspective of this new-born being and hold it in the greater awareness of my adult consciousness (between the sobs) – present and loving, affirming, there – and be assisted in that by others (Tommy and Tina) who also were present and loving, affirming, there.
Since then I have been more able to stay with that young distressed part, who is never far away – imprinted perhaps on my psyche – in meditation and normal waking consciousness. It has offered a little more explanation for this unfathomable sense of sadness that has always been there and is opening the way for a more embodied experience of being with myself, being here. It’s like inner child work on depth-charge and I’m feeling its power.
Suddenly cranio-sacral, sensorimotor and delicate somatic work make sense and are offering leaps in growth that the psychotherapeutic realm can’t, for this stage of the process.
So, thank you for the pain. Thank you for the pathway into awareness and presence. Thank you to the beings who continue to support me in this unfolding adventure of life. Helena, my ever-loving wife, especially. And God, Source, Life, ultimately.
P.S. For myself I think it important to say the following… I am under no illusions that this insight will sustain itself. My ego’s attempts to manage the intensity of the sensations will no doubt reassert themselves. This is the ebb and flow of awareness, just as the onion always reveals new unexpected layers to peel away on the road to the heart of being. That is ok. This is not a race. This is an adventure – a not knowing – a living into the questions themselves as dear Rilke reminds us, and my friends remind me.