Monday, January 8, 2024

The Body Keeps the Score

“Yesterday I was clever,
so I wanted to change the world.
Today, I am wise
so I am changing myself.”

    An ancient myth tells us of a queen who one day orders her people to cover the earth with leather, so that she may comfortably walk everywhere in her bare feet. A very brave subject gently suggests to her that perhaps covering her feet with leather might be a better solution.

    This metaphor is about our instinctual drive to control the outside world for survival. But in our affluent Western culture, it's almost entirely about 'preferences' seeking comfort & pleasure eg the perfect cup of coffee, and avoiding discomfort eg a disappointing vacation spot. Usually we're totally wrapped up in our preferences because we (wrongly) assume that this will make us feel OK.

    A part of us gets “triggered” many times each day, to varying degrees, even by (to an outside objective observer) trivial daily experiences, which happen to remind us of past events, that at the time we were unable to handle (could not fully ‘physically process’). The physically felt energy of most emotions – happy or sad – can feel disturbing to a very young child. As a result, these intolerable energies are pushed down into our bodies. Bessel van der Kolk describes this in major trauma – ‘the body keeps the score’ – but Singer (below) imho very convincingly argues that this same process occurs with ANY emotion one is unable to fully process while experiencing it.

    Furthermore, Singer argues that much of our life is devoted to attempting to control the external environment so that it will not trigger our many stored blockages. So we are either living our lives as slaves to our unresolved emotional issues (neuroses) - or we can intentionally learn to release these blockages
is NOT common knowledge. Most will continue to chase after happiness from the external world, and settle for "ordinary unhappiness." HOWEVER,

“Everything is workable.”
"Only have no preferences." 

    Meditation practice - formal sitting & informal daily life - is essentially about experiencing, learning to stabilize in & live as, that other part of us which CAN objectively perceive & handle ANYTHING the world presents us, AND learn from it.

    We stabilize in this higher Self by intentionally releasing blockages each time these arise. Now, as mature adults, the physically-felt unpleasant disturbed energy associated with a blockage that arises is NOT so difficult.  
    Each time we stay with the physical feel of an old or new emotion, until it resolves naturally (less than a minute to complete the physical processing) we diminish its power over our lives (much like a transient hunger pang while dieting).

    You will deeply appreciate how much better life becomes as you progressively free yourself from the tyranny of blocked emotions
    While most of us are unfamiliar with & somewhat averse to delving deeply into new, unfamiliar areas, I nevertheless HIGHLY RECOMMEND slow, careful, immersive reading of this imho wise, practical, well-written book:
    Michael A. Singer “Living Untethered: Beyond the Human Predicament”
    The Halifax public library has a copy; but well-worth owning $29. from Bookmark on Spring Garden or

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