A decent into the body, the weaving of embodied psychotherapy and spirituality
Someone asked me recently what is the bridge between psychotherapy and spirituality. How do they weave together in my work. As soon as we begin to explore embodiment and intimacy with what is present in the moment, what is here now, in this moment, as we sit in embodied presence with each other, we enter the mysteries of sensations, of a felt sense, an intimacy with all things, the soul life of our being and also the possibility of remembering our oneness. We become aware of the aliveness of life that is coursing through our bodies, or even the deadness and numbness we have defended by being constantly busy, we begin to notice the subtle sensations that we have been turning away from all our lives. It is like life is calling us home and yet we resist feeling it. What if feeling was the path that weaves a bridge between spirit and matter? That there is a felt sense of being, that uncoils through the decent into our bodies.
In the way i work is to be rooted in the sensations of my body, to not resist uncomfortable feelings that may arise. Sometimes it's like this, two bodies in a space feeling a felt sense of a story of our humanness and the pain that is being pushed away. How do i bear this numbness, the heavy shut disconnected wanting to curl up into a ball, here in the space with you. In this moment, how close can i sit with uncertainty, not knowing, am i willing to not push this helplessness and inadequate feeling away or to fill the space with Interpretation , but stay in the space without rescuing myself or you , how may I respond authenticity, or am i trying to protect myself by hiding behind the therapist role, am i willing to admit i got it wrong, can i meet this rage with openness and acceptance, without needing to defend, am i willing to love and allow love, can the erotic be here and not hidden or pushed away, am i open to being vulnerable too, am i willing to risk, go out on a limb even if we get into a mess at times, to trust in the mysteries of allowing everything to be as it is. This on the face of it may not appear to bridge spirituality and psychotherapy yet at the heart of this is a relaxation into being, a state of inclusiveness, in which everything is allowed to be as it is. A willingness to be in the unknown, to trust in the felt sense of being. In this place we begin to drop into just being and from here an embodied wisdom at times spontaneously arises from this space between us, something one of us says, seems to be spoken from a depth in which the soul wants to be acknowledged, or a place that has been in hiding reveals itself, or a frozen embodied state which could never expose itself, becomes seen. I call it the being wisdom, it knows the way home to it's true nature of love.
In Buddhism and many other traditions they talk about emptiness as a path to know oneself. In psychotherapy we may begin to access a sensations of emptiness as we explore are internal world. We may uncover an emptiness that carries trauma or a deep sense of being unheld and alone, the wounding of early childhood attachment issues. So if we are on a spiritual path in which long silent retreats has been very much part of are journey, then this unheld emptiness may be too overwhelming to feel, like void of terror, or an onslaught of violent rage, or self hatred. We may disassociate without even knowing this is happening.
These suppressed feelings need to be processed, otherwise they become a stuck or a need to bypass our humanness through transending in a detached dry type of spirituality which denies are humanness and emotions.
The emptiness in which these spiritual traditions talk about, is very different to the emptiness in which we can often feel in the unprocessed material of our wounding. Emptiness in this form is liberation, deep sense of aloneness which has a fullness to it also, an emptying out where silence and the void is the birthing ground of deeper layers of presence. We can fall in love with this emptiness, where space prevails in all sensations and all thoughts.
Presence can be the elixir in which the old painful childhood wounds of the past can be intergrated into the present. Grief carries a sense of letting go, dying to what has been, it is also a doorway to love, to a heart that is broken open to vastness, to the truth of our existence, the loving and loss in life and everything in which we try to protect ourselves facing our own impermanence. It strips us of our arrogance, and takes us often to a weathered humility in which we are more naked to feel the presences of oneness and the wonder of this life forever unfolding, birthing and dying, one day it will all be gone, it is here in this realisation we stand in the now, past and future dissolve and we are ready to meet the simplicity of are true nature, to truly know who we are. Slowly through grief we can discover what does not die and the recognition of our true nature.
Our embodied felt sense is a portal to being and the interconnection with life itself, through our bodies, we discover the true nature of our essence. We can sink and rest into this felt sense of home and belonging that is always here, we just need to turn towards the pulse inside our own bodies, the vibration of our rooted home, mother, Gaia, we can tune into, sense the organ of the body of life, breathing, holding us, nurturing. In my work we may explore together the very essence of rooted in this knowing, to learn to inhabit the skin and inside of our bones, organs and blood, a way to enter our true nature and discover we are not separate from nature of the stars, moon, trees and the sea, we are just the space in which it all arises from. Touch can bring us home, we may long to be held to rest in being and we may fear that level of intimacy, the vulnerability of letting go into the embrace of being. Our bodies can show us the way, as we include all sensations, resistance, are no and yes, slowly we sink deeper into the melting pot of being, in which we discover a safety and loving presences.
The spiritual and psychotherapy weave a dance together when we reflect on surrender, Surrender is again the foundation of allowing everything to be as it is, a giving way to the heart, or even to be willing to be held by another and letting go of trying to find a way out, or fix the pain, or be liberated by finding the truth of who we are. It touches once more the door of helplessness, or are interdependency and oneness of life. In this journey it is possible to weave and hold space for both the childhood wounds in which deep despair, rage, fear, helplessness and hopelessness are needing the relationship and compassion of a safe space. To surrender to be held by another, can be a pivotal point in a therapy journey but also spiritual one, a surrender to trust and willingness to be vulnerable to open oneself to be held by life itself and the mystery. The human and divinity of being held, of trusting in another, and life, can be a journey that is weaved together in therapy, as we rest in the arms of the therapy and surrender to the unfolding process perhaps we are saying to life itself, i let you hold me now, i am open to love.
In my experience this deep sense of who i am, has revealed itself slowly through the dark spaces of my wounding, the vulnerability of my helplessness, the grief of a broken heart, and the inside trembling fear in my chest, and fire of rage in my gut. A spirituality that descends into the body, is relational, it asks how do i live what i know in my every day life, it becomes more ordinary and simple, with a humming of well-bing and peace. It is not some idealised state of enlightment in which life does not challenge us or we have processed all our conditioning and shadows, or a perfect static state,. However there is a sense of space, not believing in all stories and repetitive thought patterns. The space of awareness and silence seems to absorb and penetrate through the stories of who I think I am , with deeper experiences of intimacy with the oneness of life, alongside the sweet raw human journey of living in a body, in relationship with all things. A growing sense of sovereignty arises from this birthing state of helplessness, who would think that the very helplessness we deny as being human in this body is the doorway to oneness.
The therapy journey and spiritual path all carry a longing in the heart, often that arises from suffering, a longing for love, a journey to know ourselves both as human and divine.