Archive for the ‘Initiation’ category

The Importance of Getting Triggered

September 15, 2018

Thinking about my conceptual frame Couple Experiential State Complex as Activated Threshold, I have been struck this week by the importance of focusing on tracking when we, self and others, get emotionally triggered.

By using the word triggered, I am hoping to tap into our collective, universal sense of knowing we are getting hijacked by something intensely emotional. As in getting one’s button(s) pushed.

A classic extreme example referenced in the early diagnostic manual for PTSD is if you were raped in an elevator, just seeing an elevator can evoke or trigger intense emotional and physiological reactions.

I have been making the case a spike in emotional intensity is the simplest indication we are activating/activated, announcing to all who can perceive, the presence of the blur.

From this perspective, if/when a microfracture in communication pulls us into a blur state, how can we recognize the conflict as meaningful? Might this really be an unbidden, spontaneous opportunity for healing? What if there is no such thing as fighting over little stuff?

Fred Kaufman has a post on LinkedIn Every Emotion Is A Love Story. I find this to be a great opener. If we can trust the emotion is right, but our consciousness of context and setting may be confused, we can turn our energies towards trying to drop into the deeper story. As Rumi advises in A Night Full of Talking: Everything has to do with loving and not loving. If we try on making the case the emotion is correct, how can we access the trauma complex driving the blur? Under what circumstances is this present overwhelming emotion appropriate?

Preparing oneself to enter into such a healing moment includes learning to see the power struggle as a co-created complex. From this perspective, the ritualistic elements reflect what we think of as repetition compulsions or re-enactments of the wounding. In alignment with Bromberg’s description of co-created dissociative enactments, these serve to bring the essence of the original wounding, with it’s associated transference and countertransference dance, palpably into the present moment.

In his discussion of the complexes, in their favorable aspect, John Perry observes: “The repetition compulsion, as has been pointed out so often, provides the ego the occasion again and again to encounter these rejected components of development in order finally to assimilate them in some happy moments….” My sense of what he means by “rejected components of development” is simply the recognition the absence of an elder presence allowed the violation to overwhelm the vulnerable child or adult, necessitating the activation of archetypal layer defenses, ie: a trauma complex. What was needed at the time to understand and work through the emotional overwhelm is still needed. I have played with this in thinking about the function  complexes serve in my Musing on Metamorphosis: the Complex as Chrysalis post. I have to confess for me, teleology is a big word! But, I believe it works!

In closing, I have included the graphic above to highlight the Participation Mystique &/or Trauma Portal detail.  We are all involved all of the time with some deeper level of consciousness, a multiplicity of self-states if you will, which wants to inform us about what more is going on. Because I tend to think about getting hijacked into negative emotion enactments, I find the idea getting triggered serves the blur’s function in opening a portal into the associated trauma. The repetitive couple complex enactments do seem to provide a portal into our most painful relationship failings.

Clearly, we need each other to approach going there. What is needed may be as simple, and as difficult, as dropping into the original scene, so that we may feel all of it, within relationship, bear witness together, and get the story told. (See Sandner and Beebe for an articulation of what it takes to heal a split.) This reflects the conceptual notion traumas, until they can be suffered consciously in the service of re-integration, are incomplete initiatory experiences. Creating the conditions, essentially accessing a consciousness that can bear to suffer the wounding without splitting, is the work.

If we can only hold onto the here and now, this world enactment – what you/he/she/they did or did not do to uphold our loving – we are doomed to continue with our co-created dissociated enactments.

Why not make a dedicated effort to sit with our deeper selves? We have to find a way to get to what was my part in initiating or participating in the dissociation just now? Can we strive to bear to feel as vulnerable as we may be feeling? To be continued…

 

 

Connecting the Dots: A Case for Embracing Conscious Enactment

June 8, 2016

My intention with this post, the first in my connecting the dots series of posts, is to pull from my pages the cluster of most helpful frames on universal problems and needs, in language everyone can hope to get working for themselves. Like it or not, we are all agents of consciousness, and when we can understand the importance of our conflicts in bringing us back into the wound that never seems to heal, we can perhaps access the guidance available within us to win our healing, self and other, together, in some happy moment. , It is, after all, a co-created system. This dot is about death and rebirth. Here we go.

Let’s start with a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “The Holy Longing”:

“Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.

In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.”

Translated from the German by Robert Bly

The opening Tell a wise person, or else keep silent is cautionary. It seems Goethe knows something about the mass man who will mock it right away. I believe he is referring to this same mass man when he suggests And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.

Until we are able to bring consciousness to our experiences of death and rebirth, we will be a troubled guest on a dark earth. This is an initiatory process. Learning to get one’s binocular vision back on line – the capacity to look both out and in with consciousness  – separates one from the herd. Honoring the reality of inner work puts one at risk for being discounted and shamed by those who have do not have a relationship with their inner work; having a sense of being locked out of one’s inner life is a kind of terrible darkness indeed. The price one pays in tolerating this state of being locked out brings Stafford to mind: “I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.” Reacting defensively to an invitation to share feelings is an engaging form of emotional disconnection.

From a trauma informed perspective, Sandner observed: “Death and rebirth are the mythological symbol for a psychological event: loss of conscious control, and submission to an influx of symbolic material from the unconscious.”

Emotionally overwhelming episodes – what I think of as wounds of overwhelm – introduce us to the archetypal world of mythology and the dream time, while the ego is in a state of unconsciousness.

It is critical to recognize psychological events associated with loss of conscious control may be split off from ego consciousness; at the same time they will be conscious, but not to the ego.

And until trauma, as incomplete initiatory experience, can be worked through, re-integrated into consciousness, psyche relies heavily on dissociation and projection. To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image and Force: Jung’s Supreme Meaning

March 23, 2016

RockLight DreamImage1NoMargin3.23.16

 

After recording the Rite of Passage Rock-Light Being dream, I decided to represent the image in pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor. My method for illustrating dreams is to begin by trying to establish the starting point of the dream sequence in the place most likely to allow me to work through and capture all the action, step by step, on one page. I opened this dream with the stone path at the bottom center of the page. I began penciling in the details with no conscious awareness of the greater reveal (Image 1.) As I finished the initial sketch, I couldn’t help but think, “Behold the ancient being with his bright flash of light for consciousness, crocodile brain stem extending into the olfactory region, and stunning child like silhouette! How striking, how primordial!”

EncounteringRLBeingImage2.3.23.16

After completing this scene, I turned my attention to capturing a close up of our approach along the rock face. My intention was to create an image-as-threshold to assist me in my ritually re-entering the startling moment. (See Image 2.)

I was challenged at this time in my work to understand what this powerful dream was really offering me. It was one of a number of dreams in a series which seemed to move out into the world, connecting me in important ways to mysterious meanings which defied rational explanation.

Twenty years later, deepening in my Jungian orientation through a seminar series with the analysts of the Santa Fe group, I came across Jung’s description of the serf’s predicament: “I am the serf who brings it and does not know what he carries in his hand. It would burn his hands if he did not place it where his master orders him to lay it” (Jung, Red Book, 2009, p. 230).

In the Red Book collection, we get to look in on Jung’s initiatory process. In his dialogues with the spirit of the times and the spirit of the depths, Jung describes how he came to understand the existence of an ancient consciousness enlivening us all, and how this guidance, this “supreme meaning” comes to us. The spirit of the depths comes in and places understanding and knowledge at the service of the inexplicable and the paradoxical, sense and nonsense. The melting together of sense and nonsense is what produces the supreme meaning. In Jung’s words (2009), supreme meaning is “the path, the way and the bridge to what is to come… image and force in one, magnificence and force together … the beginning and the end … the bridge of going across and fulfillment…

Furthermore, from this perspective, Jung observed “To understand a thing is a bridge and a possibility of returning to the path. But to explain a thing is arbitrary and even murder…” (Jung, Red Book 2009, p. 229-230).

While I was enjoying a newfound sense of freedom from my compulsion to explain and contemplating on magnificence and force together, this 1994 dream and these illustrations came to mind: might they be an example of image and force in one, magnificence and force together?

RockLight DreamImage1NoMargin3.23.16EncounteringRLBeingImage2.3.23.16

Getting Back into the Boat

February 18, 2016

When we become aware of having been triggered, activated, constellated, possessed, dispossessed, dissociated, or disconnected in some important way, how can we think about getting “back into the boat?”

This image, suggesting we have somehow been knocked out of the boat, brings forward earlier references to the impact on psyche of episodes of trauma and emotional/physical overwhelm. What I am signifying as wounds of overwhelm.

These human experiences have been described as the psychological basis for the mythological motif of death and rebirth.

From Egyptian mythology, Edward Edinger has observed: “When the child Maneros witnessed Isis’ terrible loss and grief upon seeing the dead Osiris, this awesome sight was so intolerable to Maneros that he fell out of the boat and drowned.” We too are vulnerable to losing balance, falling overboard and drowning in the face of intense emotion. It is how we are wired.

From the conceptualization of the ego-Self axis, such wounds symbolically knock the 110 voltage wired ego temporarily out of the boat of consciousness, and drop down into the deep waters of total psyche, in the realm of the Self. Here, they remain as if in suspended animation until the conditions are favorable for their re-integration. These are the original encapsulated episodic memories which form the nuclei of our complexes. On a side note “suspended” is misleading in terms of these are not energetically inert bundles of split off trauma. Their energies are not diminished by time and space.

Depth work is about helping us to get back into the boat with a new relationship to the reality of the waters of the unconscious, the unseen world. It is about discovering a way to re-connecting to those very experiences which, for our survival at the time, necessitated the disconnect.

Getting back into the boat consciously means choosing to open one’s self to suffering directly the images and affects generated by the original wounding experience. By definition, when these wounds of overwhelm are sufficient to knock the ego out of the boat and into the unconscious, the wounding itself evokes archetypal energies via a match with its associated collective, primordial scene. The ego is challenged to bring such scenes back into consciousness.

Years ago I was introduced to the idea that if you want to know about what has been initiatory for a person, you just need to inquire about “when did death come into your life?”

After a long opening night, hearing a hundred personal stories about first confrontations with death, I shared mine, and was then afforded a week in deepening in that exploration.

While I had never forgotten the details of my own near actual drowning experience, I was able to see then, 30 plus years later, how intensely overwhelming that confrontation with death was for me; how it had changed me, and how it was present in my work at that time, and informs me today.

The short story is that I recognized then my intense interest and evolving skill in helping others who required hospitalization in an acute psychiatric inpatient ward, could be seen as a reflection of my own initiatory encounter with death. Recognizing this possibility for the first time, a “name” came to me spontaneously: I was He-Who-Talks-About-Deep–Over-There. I was able to connect the intensity of my interest, dedication, and seemingly inexplicable capacity to sit with the most psychotic, anxious, depressed, and overwhelming experiences of others, my deeply felt resonance with the mystery present in primary process, the non-ego realm, to my ego’s efforts to look out, not within me. My connection with the depths, though largely unconscious to me at the time, was providing some critically important glue in my ability to trust the meaning of the dynamics present in the patient’s compensation-decompensation-recompensation cycle . While we may not be able to understand it yet, it can be understood from a drive to healing perspective; it is not accurate or helpful to reduce the action to evidence of pathology. It is psyche attempting some form of corrective adjustment.

This focus on the other enabled me to be present with this level of experience in the unique energetic field of the inpatient setting, without opening to my own terror and anxiety associated with my encapsulated trauma. This would be an aspect of my partial cure adaptation. My work with inpatients was about supporting them in finding their way back. Back into the boat.

I am pulling together the story about what happened next. It is a bit unusual in that the actual sequence of events have a strikingly mythological, dream time quality.

During that week I realized I needed to find a way to revisit and complete the initiatory cycle. The thought occurred to me, if/when I was able to do so, what might my new name be? What came to me at the time was: He-Who-Talks-About-Deep-In-Here-Now. While I do work out of a talking cure modality, I would place the emphasis today on being present with the full range of emotion. Something like One-Who-Is-Fully-Present-Inner-Outer-Above-Below.

What do you think? Should we practice being fully present? I believe so. Let us make preparations together to get back into the boat of consciousness, the place of re-membering.