Sunday, July 8, 2018

Healing the Basic Wound of the Heart

     “Not knowing we are loved and lovable makes the heart grow cold. And all the tragedy of human life follows from there." 
        John Welwood. "Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships. Healing the Wound of the Heart." Trumpeter, 2006.

      Early childhood experiences are beyond our control, yet powerfully shape our emotional life. And our emotional life is remarkably resistant to even adult logic & reasoning.
      “By far the most important predictor of how well (adults) coped with life’s inevitable disappointments was the level of security established with their primary caregiver during the first two years of life.” If from an early age we're conditioned to feel chronically frightened & unwanted, then our brain becomes specialized to manage feelings of fear & abandonment, so life can be a constant struggle to survive. 

        Bessel Van Der Kolk. “The Body Keeps the Score. Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.” Penguin Books, 2015.

     Logic tells us that we, like all living beings, deserve unconditional love. Yet our lived experience may well leave us with a very different, far deeper visceral imprint. Logic is like a temporary stick-on tattoo; lived experience, like a deep scar from a hot branding iron. 
     Receiving consistent, unconditional love throughout childhood is an extremely unlikely probability. Welwood writes that many therefore "come to regard love as something outside of themselves, which they have to earn by living up to certain standards." Especially in Western cultures, most of us are conditioned to feel unworthy of unconditional love and thus feel unlovable, unworthy & broken – the “wound of the heart.”
     "When the presence of love is absent, something often feels sad, not quite right; something seems to be missing, and it’s hard to find much joy, even in the midst of favorable circumstances. We easily fall prey to meaninglessness, anxiety, or despair." 
        John Welwood. "Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships. Healing the Wound of the Heart." Trumpeter, 2006.  

     On top of that, most people say they are less nurturing toward and more harsh with themselves than they are with other people.
     "Individuals have been shown to use a wide variety of strategies for recovering from blows to their self-esteem, at times even stooping to ... actively sabotage" others. 
        Molden DC, Dweck CS. "Finding 'meaning' in psychology: a lay theories approach to self-regulation, social perception, and social development." Am Psychol 2006; 61(3): 192-203.

     "So how can we get off this treadmill, this constant need to be better than others so we can feel good about ourselves? That's where self-compassion comes in. Self-compassion is not a way of judging ourselves positively. Self-compassion is a way of relating to ourselves kindly, embracing ourselves as we are, flaws and all." 
        Kristin Neff PhD TedX talk: "The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion." 
     But this can only actually take place by undergoing a fundamental identity shift, from the conditioned small needy lonely self, longing for, & 'looking for love in all the wrong places' (“the story of me”) to who we really, fundamentally are, which is unconditioned & transpersonal (Buddha-nature, “Christ within”, etc) - the very source of unconditional love. This is a massive unburdening.

     "According to the saints and mystics, love is the very fabric of what we are; we are fashioned out of its warmth and openness. ... love is the central force that holds our whole life together and allows it to function." 
        John Welwood. "Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships. Healing the Wound of the Heart." Trumpeter, 2006. 
      “Self-compassionate individuals say they are equally kind to themselves and others. Self-compassion can be thought of as a type of openheartedness in which the boundaries between self and other are softened -- all human beings are worthy of compassion, the self included." 

        Neff KD. "Self-compassion: Moving Beyond the Pitfalls of a Separate Self-concept." In: Wayment HA, Bauer JJ. "Transcending Self-interest: Psychological Explorations of the Quiet Ego." American Psychological Association, 2008. 

     "Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason it’s important is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering. We’re discovering the universe. When we discover the Buddha that we are, we discover that everything and everyone is Buddha. We discover that everything is awake and everyone is awake. Everything is equally precious and whole and good. When we regard thoughts and emotions with humor and openness, that’s how we perceive the universe. We’re not just talking about our individual liberation, but how to help the community we live in, how to help our families, our country, and the whole continent, not to mention the world and the galaxy and as far as we want to go.” Pema Chödrön

“I honor the place in you
where the entire Universe resides.
I honor the place
of love, of light, of truth, of peace.
I honor the place within you where
if you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
there is only one of us”                          Ram Dass, on the meaning of Namaste



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