This blog entry has been in gestation for many days now – which in itself is relevant to the content. How is one to deal with procrastination and resistance to change?
I recently read another wonderful book which I highly recommend: The Anatomy of Change, by Richard Strozzi Heckler. Heckler is an Aikido instructor (sensei), and body-oriented psychotherapist and an educator, and his perspective on what is required to bring about change really resonates with me. Put most simply, Dr. Heckler’s work is chiefly directed at embodiment. I have pasted his short article, “A Return to Our Livingness” at the bottom of this post.
Those of you who have read some of my previous posts here will know that in the last year I have been through a relationship split, the witnessing of a serious assault, a burglary, a tax audit and ongoing challenges around my elderly mother’s care needs. I don’t think it particularly useful to simply name a catalogue of challenges (which in comparison with the circumstance of others’ lives can seem huge or miniscule) as if that list says anything poignant about me. My reason for noting the events of my recent past then, is to remind myself, and you fair reader, of the prime importance of staying embodied in the face of challenges – whatever they may be.
Like so many others around me, I am thinking this day of what I might do to change my habits for the better. Or, that was a portion of what floated through my awareness this morning as I lay in bed listening to the CBC. Fortunately, into that space came the poem read below by its talented, young writer:
Let’s Go Around Again
by Tanya Davis 2010
Last night, we sang auld lang syne
we kissed the ones that we stood beside
and at the stroke of midnight
we all agreed to put that year to bed
we wake up this morning with another fresh beginning hanging over our tired heads
Sooo… what next?
it is time for resolutions, I guess
ok then, starting this morning I will weigh less
beginning today I will lay my addictions to rest
I will overcome
I will not succumb
I will do my best
Words like these are surely being uttered all across the land
people with a concrete reason to forge ahead with a new plan
but there is a flaw in the origin, from the get-go a seed of discouragement
grows from I can to I can’t
Because, although the symbolism is here
all of us with our fresh calendars
our new page
permanence is difficult to motivate
and the ability to succeed crumbles underneath the pressure to change
and it’s not that we can’t change
it’s just that to set expectations so high while desiring such a rapid pace
is kind of unsustainable, it makes failing a fail safe
What if personal improvement was not a time-specific commitment
and instead of a fresh start we just kept living
if life was more a circle then a series of beginnings and endings
and we could still have goals but
perhaps we would just differently tend to things
without an external pressuring
or an internal festering if our resolutions hold on our motivation’s goals was lessening
… we would still grow, we could mend things
by no means
I am dismissing what the new year brings
the kisses or the revelling
the symbols or the reckoning
the reflecting on things
I like to celebrate with strangers on a concrete occasion
and have something sincere to say to them, especially
Happy new year
I’ll take a new page, too
but all I have to do with it is be here
not suddenly improve
2010 can pack it in and 2011 can begin and I’ll be the baton passed between them
let’s go around again
So now, how is it I can balance between honestly acknowledging my own track record of (NOT) really changing past habits, with a newly developing and deepening commitment to supporting myself through the process of true, fundamental change? What will it take to make that change toward many following changes? In a word, embodiment.
Look again tomorrow for a post about an Open House my friend Rod and I will be offering in three weeks from today. The purpose behind that gathering will be to explore ways in which Presence can deepen, and we can remind ourselves of both the opportunity and the need to be more embodied…..
A Return to our Livingness
By Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Ph.D.
We are made to feel. Feeling is that part of us that is aware when danger is present, and when it is safe; who we can trust, or not; to empathize with others; to love; to be touched by beauty; to live in purpose and meaning; to be part of the natural order; and, to lead a moral life. Feeling brings us present to our livingness. Simply said: Feeling makes us fully human.
We are also made to language. Language allows us to think through complex issues; to place things in perspective; to order our world; to access memory and declare the future; to coordinate with others; and, to distinguish right action. Simply said: Thinking makes us fully human.
Feeling and Thinking are two currents of the river we call our livingness. Sensations, images, actions, moods, images, thoughts, streamings, contractions, expansions, and gestures make up the livingness we call ourselves. This is conversationally referred to as the mind/body connection and it points to the inextricable link between the body and the self. The recent advancements in neuroscience technology have scientifically demonstrated, (Read: verified by hard science therefore must be true) what has been known for millenniums by practitioners of consciousness. What and how we feel affects what and how we think; and what and how we think affects how we feel. When our feeling-self and thinking-self are coherent we are at our most powerful. When they’re at odds, we’re a train wreck.
Think of someone you love, how does that feel in your body? Think of something negative, how does that feel in your body? Hunch your shoulders, breathe shallow, squeeze your eyes and plan your day tomorrow, how does that feel?
When we do simple exercises like this the connection is very clear and simple, but over the last four hundred years we have slowly, but tenaciously weighted the importance of the thinking-self to the exclusion of the feeling-self. Furthermore, the explosion of technology in the last sixty years has dramatically increased this split. The majority of people spend their time in front of machines attempting to reason themselves through problems and relationships. Our social institutions, influenced by traditional religion and science, enforce and reify our thinking, rational self and we have come to rely on and live through dogma, ideology, symbols, concepts, and cognitive constructs. This perpetrates a disembodied view of the world in which we have lost access to a deeper intelligence and wisdom. This objectification, in other words, has minimized our ability for self-responsibility, self-healing, self-learning, and self-generating.
Languishing in this void of feeling, sensing, intuition, meaning, and purpose we have lost our ability to be self-knowing and world-knowing. This ultimately reduces our capacity for ethical, skillful action which is based in sustainability for the planet and dignity for all people. We have now reached a critical historical juncture in which it is necessary to take a stand in which we experience ourselves as a responsible part of the whole. In this post-Copernican view of the world we must now declare “I am responsible for my own experience. I am part of this Universe and it is my responsibility to take care of it.” (Though I use the personal “I” this is meant to represent the collective “We” as well).
We do not need a religious or scientific mediator between our experience and our experience of the world. Our needs and purpose can never be fulfilled through nation states or authoritarian institutions that represent an objective, non-feeling, disembodied power. We make the world; we are part of the world; and, it is our responsibility to keep it in good shape. This is a call for bold and courageous action.
In this moment of choice, our power to be self-generating, self-healing, and self-learning is at stake and with it the future of the planet and all living things. This path of transformation begins by turning our attention to the feeling self, turning our attention to the livingness we call our body.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must Be the Change you want to see in the world”
Happy New Year,