December 2011 Events
This month we are taking a well earned rest. In January we will publish our full calendar of events for 2012. We will be seeing some clients over the Chirstmas break, so feel free to contact us if you feel you need support.
Forgiveness and Compassion - The Spirit of Christmas
In these last few weeks we have noticed our mailbox overflowing with all sorts of catalogues and flyers for Christmas. The nature of all of these publications is the retailing of some form of merchandise and truly shows the consumerism face of Christmas.
The newspapers and media have also commented on the new political correctness in the community whereby the singing of Christmas carols and the symbols of a Christian Xmas are being eliminated from shopping centres and schools, in case other faiths, or atheists become offended.
I never hear however the idea that given Christmas is a Christian festival, what about we do away with it all together, and all go work instead, or that Christians can take a few days off whilst the rest of us continue at work as it’s not our belief.
Today Christmas is largely about the worship of materialism rather than anything spiritual. The spiritual themes get lost in the noise of the clang of cash registers ringing, and the stimulus of sales and wrapped presents under the Christmas tree.
The key themes of birth, renewal, and the fostering of forgiveness and compassion are largely relegated to those who attend church, or who watch an old Hollywood rerun of one of the biblical epics that tend to run at this time of year.
Most people can relate to the theme of birth and renewal at Christmas even if they do not practice it themself. The more subtle but equally powerful themes of forgiveness and compassion are a more hidden theme of Christmas that are universal and both encompass and transcend all religions and atheist or agnostic groups in society.
The concept of forgiveness and compassion are powerful psychological states that create healing and growth in people. The ability to forgive is a significant indicator of emotional intelligence in a person, whilst the ability to have empathy and the resulting state of compassion is a necessary state of anyone who would claim to be truly spiritual and no longer living from self interest.
Increasingly we live in a world where “me” is worshipped at the expense and subordination of the “we”. This increasing Narcissistic tone in society is driving out the ideals of empathy and compassion and is leading to a more aggressive and isolated world for the people in it. We live as a result in a paradoxical world of both global connection via technology as well as global disconnection via a lack of heart. The various loneliness indexes used by researchers are showing this increasing problem in our society.
The recent neuroscience work of Stephen Porges and Sue Carter have highlighted how we all have socially architecture brains which require regular social interactions with other humans to maintain mental, emotional and physical health. The currency of social exchange is both mental(language), emotional(emotions/feelings), and bodily(Oxytocin and Neurobiology). The outcome is either illness or wellness over time.
What is now being understood is that some people will substitute the social attachment process of the brain that creates the basis for relatedness, compassion and love with other people, by instead bonding to a “safer” substitute. A safer substitute to a human may be the internet from which we hide behind to create a false idealised image of self, create mock “friends” on Facebook, and basically withdraw from life.
Another substitute may be the attachment to materialistic objects such as cars, boats, wealth objects, more money, more houses, and opulent living. Still others attach themselves obsessively to a hobby like coins, or an interest like the gym junkie or tri-athelete.
We cannot prevent the social engagement process of the brain driving us unconsciously towards attachments, but how we attach, and with what we attach ourselves to, tells us much about our ability to naturally attach to other human beings in a meaningful way.
As a result of our social brains and the social engagement impulses in all of us we end up interacting with many people and in many ways. In some of those encounters we find the experience pleasurable and some others neutral or even unsatisfactory. Some encounters start out as one of these but change throughout the encounter, or perhaps over time to become another type of outcome. We may start out as enemies and end up as friends or the other way around.
One of the universal problems in us human beings is that many have an inability to forgive another person for perceived or real hurt and transgression against us. This problem has existed forever and has historically been the subject of explicit teachings and mention in traditional religions, as well as being part of the basis by which legal codes and laws were developed to provide remedies and processes for those with grievance against another.
There has been a rise in litigation over the last 10 years in civil courts by aggrieved parties attempting to get justification, compensation or revenge against another party or person. Lawyers note how more people than ever today are prepared to head off to the police or a lawyer and attempt to initiate action from a place of anger, slight and outrage.
The issue is partly due to our Narcissistic society and the messages and values such a society espouses. Today we find people determined to be right rather than be in truth with each other. It is increasingly common for people to seek advantage, to use, to lie, and to betray another in one’s own quest for happiness or the quest for power, success, image, self-gratification or wealth.
This creates a larger body of aggrieved people who then harbour strong negative feelings against those who transgressed against them. It is quite easy for those people to become victims to those who offended them. In some cases such as heinous crimes like murder, rape, assault and theft of major assets this is quite justified. The victim is truly a victim. Redress is often justified.
In other cases we find that the “victim” is more embarrassed, shamed, exposed as deceiving, wrong in fact, or morally weak. The slight is more to their ego than anything substantially manifest, or there is no real trauma other than to their image or reputation, or sense of being found right and correct in all things.
Some victims find themself angered and outraged and unable to let go of what may not be tangibly substantial but they turn the event internally into a perceived slight of major proportions. They may then find their sense of emotional and mental stability undermined as they react and erupt every time they think of that person or that event. They may in fact endure more suffering at their own minds over time than in fact what they suffered in the original event.
Such people often dwell incessantly on the issue and then start to harbour revenge fantasies, or might find themselves becoming obsessive about the issue and so losing a sense of balance and perspective about the issue, which then affects their present time health and well-being, as well as preventing them from “moving on” in their lives.
Some dramatic personalities such as the Narcissist are known to mark out their enemies and critics for revenge for life, and remain obsessive and negative without remission over time. Many more people are less dramatic but this overall tone can pervade people and keep them from being unable to come to completion with people and events from their past.
It is true that to the degree that you are stuck ruminating over events and people from your past, is the degree to which you are not consciously in present-moment time, and to the degree that you are unable to be happy in the present moment. If we are facing our past then we are not present to this moment and are not able to face our future in any real positive way.
Look at it this way. A perpetrator who offended you may have moved on with their violation of you nearly 20 years ago. If we have held onto that hurt for that 20 years then the hurt only still exists in our own mind and it is punishing only us, not them as they have moved on and forgotten the incident.
Hopefully this perpetrator learnt a lesson and wisdom and took that forward with them and became a more conscious and aware person as a result of whatever happened. Regardless the only person now still suffering is you and the only person still persecuting you is just you. Everyone else has moved on with their lives. Think of a past unresolved hurt and test this wisdom for yourself.
Each of us in life has made mistakes, offended others, caused insult or injury, or had moral lapses. It is in the nature of being human to make mistakes. It is in the nature of wisdom to learn lessons from those mistakes and not to repeat them. Hopefully we each learn about our wounds and blindspots, heal that part of us, and move on in life more aware and healed.
We each need to learn forgiveness and compassion as part of our emotional intelligence in this life. These states of conscious mind are a wisdom mind that sees clearly the situation and can work to bring it to a true completion and leave one at peace with oneself, the aggressor, and the world at large.
Both the Eastern and Western great religions offer insights into the process of forgiveness and compassion but unfortunately some of these great traditions also have historically bodies of teaching and wisdom that can also appear to contradict itself, and also offer encouragement for the revengeful, the punisher, the righteous, and the judgemental.
The sad truth of many of the old traditions is that they then become justification for the lack of forgiveness in such matters, and may even embolden the person to become more vindictive and judgemental. Interpretation of such subjects as compassion versus punishment becomes harder when the overall body of text from the world’s great religions seem to offer both a justifications of punishment and forgiveness.
For a more in-depth discussion of the loss of spirit in religion I refer you to my most recent article The Loss of Spirit in Religion.
At Christmas there is supposed to be a spirit of renewal and of compassion and forgiveness. Christmas is of the heart and about heart based themes. The concept of giving at Christmas is part of the focus moving away from the self and considering others, which is all part of compassion.
If you want to develop compassion and an open heart then one powerful way is to cultivate the practices used by Buddhists for thousands of years as a way of realising compassion and love at the core of their being. They have powerful methods to create what Western religions talk about but often fail to be able to help followers create within themself.
Adopting a Buddhist practice for the purpose of creating for example a Christian outcome aligned to Christian faith is not a hearsay despite the rigid and intolerant claims of some. Buddhism at many levels is a tool and system of psychological self-development and its many practices such as mindfulness, meditation, and visualisation is now commonly used in western psychology, medicine, business and other disciplines.
The actual practice is well outlined in the profound book entitled “Universal Compassion” by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Basically the practice involves thinking about ourselves in relation to others in a way that dissolves narcissism, spiritual pride, negativity, judgements and anger.
The first practice in this group may be summarised as the creation of the mindfulness where we think “may I take on defeat and give victory to others”. This simple but powerful practice is one where we start to dismantle within us the idea that we need to always right, and that we always have to win.
In fact it promotes the concept of being humble and feeling OK about not winning, not having to prove you are right, and offering the other person the benefit of being right instead of yourself.
The second practice that supports the ability to do the first mentioned practice, is that called “equalising self with others”. In this mindfulness we recognise that in all the behavioural and other differences that we see in others, behind all that we are all the same.
The common ground of our humanity is that we are all trying to avoid suffering and we are all trying to find pleasure and happiness. When we can realise this we can see and treat others as our equals and look beyond whatever ways that person goes about trying to achieve these ends. We are in that sense all equal and all in the same boat in life.
The next related practice is that of contemplating why the excessive cherishing of ourself is not a basis for happiness, and will only lead to suffering. The logic in this contemplation helps to shift one away from self centeredness and ego over-inflation which many righteous people suffer from.
There is also a related practice of contemplating why it is healthy and positive for both and others that we learn to cherish them as much or even more than ourself. This practice builds the basis for empathy and compassion as it takes one out of the way and lets us include others in our view of life.
The next practice involves meditating and contemplating on the profound practice of exchanging self with others. Here one finds that one employs the developing empathy and compassion to emotionally develop a wish that you could help that other person with their suffering by exchanging your situation or self for theirs or them. Here you are actively interested in having the intention to help and notice others and you are now really starting to “love thy neighbour”.
An extension of this practice then becomes possible by building on exchanging self with others by also meditating and contemplating on the profound idea of taking on another’s suffering and giving them love and healing. In this practice we actively open our hearts as we try to give forth love which is the basis for the “spirit” of Christianity and of most other religious traditions.
In this last practice we bring it “alive” and make it dynamic by mounting it on our breath. This powerful method works by imagining that as we breathe in we draw in their sickness and suffering and burn it up as black smoke, and then as we breathe out we send them love and healing. This breathing linked dynamic then becomes a powerful living process that purifies both the self and clears the mind of selfish pride, self-obsession and narcissistic behaviours and ways of being.
Any of us can practice these goodwill processes and we do not need to be either Buddhist, Christian or even religious to do so. Each practice is basic common empathic humanity that we each should practice as human beings. At Christmas time the best gift we can give ourselves and each other is our humanity and the love, caring and compassion that comes from that place.
I hope that each of you can strive to keep opening your hearts towards each other and not let the often rigid rule based practices of organised religions make you find more reasons to keep you separate from and judgemental of your fellow humans. Instead try to embrace each other as one in our humanity and the world can then start to live and move to a safer and more spiritual basis for all.
Christmas Words from Leslee – Heart Energy in Your Home
Is your home where your heart is?
For many people in this very busy world there is a missing piece of what really matters, as you are literally pulled in many different directions, with so many commitments, when is enough, enough!
Is there any warmth left in you to bring home to your family, housemates or are you plain out of juice and walk in the door with nothing but emptiness, resentment, anger, stress and a feeling of what is life all about?
- Exhaustion is a dragging energy
- Overwhelm brings a scattered energy
- Resentment puts out a dark heavy energy
- Disconnection can feel cold
Maybe you are not the only one in your home that feels like this, where is the love and who can give it?
Something needs to change unless there is something loving and positive to bring home you may be in an emotional desert of nothingness, disconnection and disappointment, there is no heart energy.
As a Core Energetics psychotherapist and fellow human being I am very aware of my need for balance in my life, between work & play, interests and my family, friends, home life and my need for rest and relaxation, so that I can bring my best to our home.
Can you take responsibility with your part in the co creation of bringing positive energy to your home, be game to take a journey inside to re evaluate your beliefs, issues and needs, what are your human limits and how can you change your energy? Where is your heart in this matter?
To bring the energy of love to your home is the most beautiful energy on the planet, it is warm, fuzzy and delightful, it ripples and touches all. It is like a flower blossoming, there is sweetness everywhere. What a true delight to live in this way, replenishing and rejuvenating, life is good. You really do matter!
To change your energy and your life, please don’t hesitate to take the journey to your Core (heart), we can work together to make your world a better place for you.
I am available for sessions in Sydney and the Central Coast, or if you are not in this vicinity, phone & skype sessions are available. To contact me you can call me on 0407934499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
From my heart to yours, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas filled with joy and sincerity.
The Trauma Personality
The effects of trauma on humans is only now being fully appreciated and understood in depth. Our recent article on Alice In Wonderland – A Borderline Personality Tale and the seminar on the Borderline personality resonated with many people. Given this I have responded to appeals to write a more technical article titled Borderline Personality which outlines key concepts behind the developmental trauma personality.
The Borderline personality is one where the affected person can have an emotional state that demonstrate sudden shifts between apparent normality to either a hyper-aroused or a collapsed state. They are particularly triggered by perception of, or real occurrences of abandonment or rejection. They exist part of the time in the borderline state of normality but are often bordering on or can be easily triggered into an unstable or trauma re-enactment state.
In this general framework there can be a number of exhibited behaviours and hence it has been the case that this definition can be wrongly used to label “difficult” or emotionally volatile adults. The Borderline or trauma personality does not have a healthy sense of self. Their childhood backgrounds will be found to have been chaotic, unsafe, or abusive, possibly in the face of being raised by a troubled mother, or possibly father. This is why it is often referred to as developmental trauma.
The participants of my recent workshop found this new Borderline Personality article very insightful to help them understand their own developmental trauma outcomes. We share it with you all now.
A Narcissism Update
In line with the Borderline or trauma personality article, I have reviewed and updated my original Narcissism article with new information and constructs. Take the time to read this over your Christmas and learn about this unique personality.
At the recent Narcissistic/Borderline 2 day workshop it was expressed that I should again run this life-changing event for those who grew up with either a Narcissistic and/or Borderline personality parent, or who has endured one in relationship, at work or in some other significant dynamic in their life.
I have now run this event twice in 2 months but already have 6 people wanting me to run it in January 2012. I am happy to advise that I am again running this key event on the weekend of January 28 and 29 2012. We will publish the flyer for this workshop along with other event details for 2012 in January.
The people who attended this course rated it as one of the best they had ever attended in terms of the frameworks, concepts and then personal insights it gave them. The resulting schemas, tools and techniques have been found to be empowering in overcoming traumatisation and victimisation they have felt from the dynamics and abuse they encountered in their childhood and/or adult lives.
Places are limited at all of my workshops so everyone gets personal attention. Please contact us at the earliest opportunity if you wish to know more or book in as I will not be running this signature event again till late 2012.
We hope you have a great Christmas with your loved ones.
Enjoy your holiday,
Director, Energetics Institute