Centering  —  The Body Speaks

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series The Body Speaks

The Body Speaks  —  A New Series about all the things our bod­ies are try­ing to tell us. We’ll look at the ways to lis­ten, and what to do next.

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It’s all about Relating

Dar­bel­la and I were hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about rela­tion­ships and pas­sion for life with friends yes­ter­day, and I was intrigued as we talked, as much of what is in this arti­cle got cov­ered as we talked.

Low­er Dan Tian,
a.k.a. the Sec­ond Chakra

This morn­ing, an image popped into my head: of the Low­er Dan Tian —  in Chi­nese med­i­cine this spot 2 inch­es below the navel  —  it’s also the 2nd Chakra area. I thought, “This spot is so cen­tral, so “core” to us, and this region is so “ignored.”

There are three impor­tant aspects to this region:
1) Relat­ing,
2) Pas­sion for Life,
3) Sex­u­al Pas­sion (and sacred sexuality.)

The entire region (the low­er bel­ly around to the low­er back) is broad­ly defined as the “Rela­tion­ships Region,” and that’s where we’ll begin.

This arti­cle will look at relat­ing.

I want to spend some time per­suad­ing you that relat­ing is “all about total­ly own­ing your per­spec­tive on things.” In oth­er words, we’ll explore your rela­tion­ship with how you “do” relating.

The region has a dis­tinct front / back com­po­nent.
The front pelvis and low­er bel­ly is about sex­u­al­i­ty and sex­u­al pas­sion /energy, and
the low­er back, from the waist down, is about pas­sion for life. 

This front / back pair will be cov­ered sep­a­rate­ly in the next two arti­cles. The same rule applies — we’ll look at how you relate to your sex­u­al­i­ty and how you relate to your pas­sion for life.

Relating With Others — The Dance of Relating

Devel­op­men­tal­ly, one of the first thing a baby “does” is ground her­self. In the con­text of human devel­op­ment, the first “eye open­er” is real­iz­ing you are out­side of mom, and that now, you need exter­nals (food, shel­ter, etc…) to survive.

Once this real­iza­tion of “base­line exis­tence” is inter­nal­ized, rela­tion­ship-build­ing begins. This starts a few months after birth, because ini­tial­ly, babies are qua­si-autis­tic and still enmeshed with mom.

Build­ing rela­tion­ship (an activ­i­ty, so bet­ter put: relat­ing) means that the infant begins the project of “me / not me,” which is the basis of sur­vival, dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion, and start­ing the next step: the devel­op­ment of a self / ego.

Initially, Relating = Socialization

As the infant begins the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion (me / not me) process, she dis­cov­ers the expec­ta­tions of oth­ers. (Remem­ber, it took her a cou­ple of months to real­ize that there actu­al­ly are others.)

The first learn­ing is this:
in order to get what I want, I have to do what the “big peo­ple” want me to do. Thus, rela­tion­ship seems to be about “behav­ing” and being rewarded.

For exam­ple, “Susie” may cry. In rush­es mom­my with a breast or bot­tle. If Susie fuss­es while feed­ing, mom­my may become cross, take the food away, or emo­tion­al­ly “cut off” her child, so Susie learns to be “hap­py-act­ing” — her needs are more eas­i­ly met if she does what mom­my wants.

Infants and chil­dren have noth­ing to com­pare their learn­ings to. So Susie is not suck­ing away and think­ing, “Boy, is my mom­my neu­rot­ic. Look at what a girl has to do to get her tum­my filled!” No, she’s learn­ing to “relate” by look­ing out­side to see how “mom­my” is, mod­i­fy­ing her behav­iour to make mom­my hap­py, and learn­ing that the only way to get ful­ly fed is to manip­u­late oth­ers and the sit­u­a­tion.

We call this inner/outer confusion.

Sad­ly, most adults will read the above and think that’s how one relates. You ask, demand, cajole oth­ers into giv­ing you what you want, as opposed to being self-actu­at­ed and self-responsible.

Next, the kid toss­es in the “Kre­skin” (mind read­ing) part. “Mom­my” was pret­ty good at meet­ing your unspo­ken needs (you squawked a bit and a bot­tle or boob appeared… like mag­ic), so you may still think that if some­one loves you, they “ought to” be able to read your mind. Or, that you “ought to” be able to state your need or desire one time, and get your way from that point on.

Let me unpack. Inner / out­er con­fu­sion is this:
I think about or want some­thing, and I expect the exter­nal world to pro­vide it. “I’m not hap­py, and you should change things or your­self, so I can be hap­py.“
Or, “Can’t you see how hard I am try­ing to make you hap­py, so that you’ll “feed me” what I want?”

Dys­func­tion­al rela­tion­ships are caused by cling­ing to infan­tile ways of relat­ing. Every time I see a cou­ple play­ing this “exter­nals caused what I feel / exter­nals should be dif­fer­ent” game, I see three-year-olds fight­ing in a sandbox.

Stability comes from authentic relating

What I want you to under­stand is that the sta­bil­i­ty we are talk­ing about could also be described as accep­tance. Sim­ply put: “I accept that the way I am, is the way I am, right now. If I want a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence, I accept the respon­si­bil­i­ty for cre­at­ing it…through the way I choose to relate with others.”

Vibrant Relating comes from Self-acceptance and Self responsibility

From a Bud­dhist per­spec­tive, the unsat­is­fac­tori­ness of life is due to cling­ing — and what we cling to is an atti­tude, belief or object. We want more, more, more of what we like, and less, less, less of what we don’t.

We spend our entire exis­tence wish­ing for what isn’t — 
wish­ing that we could con­trol the flow of our expe­ri­ence
by demand­ing that things (and oth­ers) become, and then stay, for­ev­er,
the way we want them to be.

Mark Epstein, has a book called “Going to Pieces With­out Falling Apart.” Let me toss out a quote.

But once we start to appre­ci­ate how it is the hold­ing on to plea­sure and the push­ing away of pain that is the prob­lem (not plea­sure and pain them­selves), we start to see how it is pos­si­ble to prac­tice in the midst of our dai­ly lives.” 

Page 141

And let’s face it, the attrac­tion / repul­sion we feel for our pas­sion, for peo­ple we want inti­ma­cy with, and for our sex­u­al­i­ty is per­fect­ly described in this quote. Instead of accep­tance, we engage in an end­less dance of grasp­ing onto and push­ing away.

Relating is an action

So, how do we get into trou­ble? We get into trou­ble by con­fus­ing how we relate (an action) with hav­ing a “rela­tion­ship” (a sta­t­ic thing.)

Exam­ple: Mark and Sal­ly come in for ther­a­py and to want to talk about “the relationship.”

I would look at them while putting a quizzi­cal look on my face. I’d say, “Rela­tion­ship? I don’t see a rela­tion­ship. I do see Mark and Sal­ly engag­ing, or relat­ing with each oth­er. We can’t talk about your rela­tion­ship as if it’s sep­a­rate from how each of you relates to the other.”

Thus, relating is about how you enact your life; how you relate to what is around you.

What is your behav­ior, how do you relate, to your near­est and dearest?

The use­ful approach is to let go of cling­ing to labels, hav­ing judge­ments, and demand­ing that oth­ers change so that you can be hap­py. You own your expe­ri­ence, your feel­ings, and your actions. You see each thought and action as it is — a moment and a behav­ior in the here and now.

Here are some ways to enact this as you relate:

Express Your Stuff–Don’t Stuff it

“Lis­ten, son­ny, the next
time you’re angry,
shove it in here!”

It all starts with express­ing your feel­ings and emo­tions. Fully.

When you were a tyke, you squawked and in rushed the big peo­ple, and made it all better.

As time went by, mom and dad trained you not to be annoy­ing by get­ting you to shut up. They taught you to jus­ti­fy (and you sel­dom could) and then stuff your emotions.

Since child­hood, your emo­tions have been inter­nal­ized. They feel like pain and pres­sure, and you still want some­one to rush in and res­cue you from them, prefer­ably with­out you hav­ing to say a word.

Grow up and get over it.

Your emo­tions are real, are yours, and are self-cre­at­ed. They need to be owned, (“I am anger­ing myself”) and safe­ly expressed.

Use “I” Language — All The Time!

Of course I’m being respon­si­ble! I’m respon­si­ble for point­ing out how it’s all your fault!”

The bane of suc­cess­ful relat­ing is the pro­noun “you” — with or with­out the fin­ger-point­ing. Many are the jus­ti­fi­ca­tions: “Nor­mal­ly I’d use “I lan­guage,” but this time you real­ly went too far, and you’re ruin­ing my … my… tran­quil­i­ty! Change! Now!”

The only use of “you” is for report­ing an observation — 

I notice you got home at 7pm four times this week.”

Then, it’s all “I language” — 

I notice that I am con­cern­ing myself, and I am mak­ing myself angry, because I am choos­ing to feel iso­lat­ed and alone. Here is what I would like to do differently…”

All you can ever report on is your inter­nal expe­ri­ence of what you think is hap­pen­ing. It’s not true, it’s not real. My favourite way of stat­ing this is to pref­ace my com­ments with, “So, the sto­ry I am telling myself…”

You must adopt “I” lan­guage, all the time, no mat­ter what, no mat­ter how hard-done-by you are mak­ing your­self feel.

Ask For What You Want

Hint: You are not a prince(ess) being served by a court of lack­eys. No one has a clue what you need this time. Stop set­ting peo­ple up for failure.

Many are the dra­mas that come from “If you loved me, you would know what I want,” or, “I’ve told you in the past not to give me advice.” 

I’ve cer­tain­ly been guilty of rush­ing in with advice for Dar­bel­la, and for a year or two she would pref­ace every sto­ry with, “I want to tell you about a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion, and all I want you to do is to listen.”

Of course, I had the option of dis­count­ing what she want­ed, and I could have charged in with advice. But I live by the premise that I am not in rela­tion­ship with Dar to fix her. I’m here to learn about her, and to tell her about me. Peri­od. She’s an adult, and high­ly com­pe­tent, and quite capa­ble of fix­ing her own stuff. What she wants, what I want, is some­one to vent with, some­one to “sim­ply listen.”

If you think you’re not get­ting what you want as you relate, ask your­self, do you ask? Drop the mag­i­cal think­ing, prince(ess), and start.

Be will­ing to hear “no,” and expect most­ly to hear “yes,” and you’ll begin to get what you want.

Work on Each Other

Find a Body­work­er, or take a Haven course, and learn to breathe togeth­er, and learn to do effec­tive Body­work on each other.

I find that, when I sim­ply pay atten­tion to Dar­bel­la, I can “see” her hold­ing pat­terns. We’ve made a “deal” with each oth­er. When we see a hold­ing pat­tern, we have auto­mat­ic and uni­ver­sal per­mis­sion to reach out and apply Body­work pres­sure, while say­ing “Breathe! Let it out!”

We do this with each oth­er, all the time. It’s often noisy, teary, and filled with emo­tion. And then, it’s over, and life shifts. The emo­tion is released, and we have danced togeth­er. We don’t even have to dis­cuss “what just hap­pened,” because  it’s just “stuff that was unstuffed.” No jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, excus­es or expla­na­tions required.

Endlessly Let Go

Most peo­ple in our cul­ture tend to hold on to their “crap.” Past hurts (sto­ries they tell them­selves, not real…) past dis­ap­point­ments, all kinds of imag­i­nary dra­mas, all are tena­cious­ly clung to.

And many peo­ple in our cul­ture are constipated — the med­ical ver­sion of hold­ing onto the fes­ter­ing stuff that is bet­ter “dumped.” (Notic­ing the language???)

What do you hold on to? How much crap, old, old stuff, do you har­bour, cling to?

Let it all go. I know. Hard. Until you do it. Then you see, and expe­ri­ence, freedom.

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