Here and Now
May 5th, 2023
Recently I’ve been noticing the nature of human striving, in particular the tendency to locate satisfaction or fulfillment in something that is difficult to attain or actually beyond our control. What’s curious is also this: when we do happen to achieve the goal or experience what we had been yearning for, hey presto - another site of aggravation or incompleteness replaces it and the cycle begins again. And in the meantime feeling at ease in yourself and in life becomes out of reach once again.
It may even be why you’re interested in breathwork. If you can just ‘get over’ that issue, stop feeling this way, get healed or tweak yourself you’ll arrive at the lasting sweet spot. Certainly we are drawn to therapy because it offers the promise of ‘being your best self’ and underlying this wish can be a fundamental lack of ease with who we are, where we are at, or how we have learned to cope with the hardships of life. In other words we don’t accept ourselves as we are, and believe we need to be ‘fixed’.
This impulse is not bad or wrong; it’s just an artform to understand what we most need for our being to find equilibrium, or to ride the waves of feelings, behaviours or circumstances with courage and grace, whilst at the same time developing a fundamental sense of being OK with ourselves . Craving and aversion has had huge benefits for our species; it is what has ensured not just our survival but also our adaptation and flourishing. It fuels innovation, creativity and knowledge. But it can also prevent us from feeling the rightness in our current struggle, the process that is unfolding in our life and to sit well with it all, trusting in ourselves and in life. Much of my work with clients doesn’t change the focus of the struggle but can utterly transform how you relate to yourself and your understanding of ‘the problem’.
I work with the inner worlds of humans and generally we’re focussed on how to alleviate our discomfort or pain. It might be a health issue, an important relationship, compulsive behaviour, being too busy or being afraid of the future, or life. Things like “if my boss would value me/ if I didn’t have to worry about money / if my kids got on/ if my partner was different”.
These issues take up a lot of mental and emotional energy precisely because they are beyond our control; our influence over others is limited, some circumstances can’t be changed, and often the more we try to change ourselves the firmer the grip of our issue.
Whether as a client or a therapist, I often discover in the non-ordinary states of consciousness that our struggles link straight back to formative experiences in childhood or even further back in our lineage, a kind of ‘family malady’. There’s something about that guilt-tripping boss that hooks into a place in you that was deeply intimidated by the needs of a parent. The crazy in-laws remind us of a formative experience where things were not safe and you felt responsible. Or the partner who is not affectionate is triggering the pain of a parent who wasn’t coping, and dis-associated when we needed loving attention as a young child.
The beauty of Breathwork is that it allows us to access not just the intellectual understanding of these connections but to feel it in the body. To connect with the deep emotional, spiritual, energetic and physical places within ourselves where we can begin to repair and actually meet those younger selves and attend to them as the kind, loving and mature people we are now. To make the connections that give us clarity to recognise when old material and coping mechanisms are being activated, and to make conscious choices in how we want to behave now, and meet the needs of the little one with warmth and compassion.
Sources of angst will not magically disappear, but our relationship to these sources can shift radically, because these tools offer a way to work with ourselves and our history, to know the true root of the current pain and to be supported in our journey. The difference is significant. To digest these unmet needs in a non-ordinary state of consciousness and to integrate that into your current life allows you to lift your face to the sun, sit up in the saddle and survey the distance you have come, the reality that surrounds you now, and feel truly grateful. Or at least to no longer believe that everything will only feel better once your problems are resolved or wishes achieved, but that your relationship with the present - as it is - can feel right and true, not one day in the future but here and now.
Warmest wishes, Ninna