Category Archives: Heart

The Long and Short of Wanting

[A young girl and her father are listening to a song. The song is “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” They really wanted to drive that message home, didn’t they? The Rolling Stones. Look at them, trying to gather no moss! Did they get what they needed? What if they needed moss?]

[Now it is later. The song is not playing. The young girl wants something. The father wants something else. Or does the father just want the young girl not to want the something? The father decides it is a perfect time to sing the song now, or at least the only two lines anyone ever remembers.]

[At some point the girl starts to internalize a different lyric:

You can’t ever get what you want.

She stops wanting anything,

for the most part.]

[Now it is even later. Maybe a lot later. The young girl is a young woman. She doesn’t know what she wants. People are asking her what she wants? What does she say? What does she even need? This starts to cause trouble.]

[The young woman gets older. Not wanting has caused her enough pain. She decides she wants to want. Right now, she is whispering in my ear, telling me to write down that wanting was never the problem…the problem is when someone equates wanting with getting. Like she did. So she is trying wanting on for size. Let’s see how she does…]

This wanting thing is new.

That needing thing is old.

I want to want, and not  j u s t  to need.

We all need something to want…[sung to the tune of “Lean On Me”, until you realize it is not the right number of syllables].

We all need somethingy to want…[cringe]

We all need somebody to want [that doesn’t work either].

We all need somebody to want us [well, that works…but it isn’t the message I want to convey…although it may be true too- but, HEY! These are really bad stage directions! Oh, is that what they are?].

We all want somebody to want us.

I want you.

I want you now,

today,

ahora,

for the present…

In the present, I want you for the future too.

Now is not the future.

I am not from the future, although time travel would be cool, and probably a real mess, so…

I am glad I am not from the future.

I want you now.

I don’t mean sexually, but I do want you sexually… [oh, you know what I mean!]

In the past I didn’t have you.

That would seem to suggest [in a British accent, mind you…Sherlock maybe?],

I must not need you.

That’s good!

I want you now…in the present, and for the future, now…but I don’t need you…because I didn’t always have you…in the past!

Don’t be scared now…

I love you.

I want to love you.

I choose to love you.

But, listen closely, darling,

I don’t need to love you.

[I don’t need to write left justified text either]

[or reserve brackets for stage directions, apparently [sarcastically]]

And, Baby?

          I [don’t] need your loving.

I just don’t got to have it!

But yes,

                    oh yes,

                              oh yeah,

                                        OH HELL YEAH!

…I want your loving.

Give it

or

take it away…

Whatever you want.

Do whatever you want

and

I will do the same

Today, I want to love you

Today, I do love you

But  many other loves didn’t make it till today.

They had their day.

Today is you.

Let’s not pretend we know tomorrow

I can only talk of it today.

Today is you.

So let’s not count the children we don’t have

or count the years until I can’t have them anyway

Today is you.

Today is you and me.

Today is all I want today.

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Please Hear What I’m Not Saying

http://www.poetrybycharlescfinn.com/pleasehear.html

Please Hear What I’m Not Saying

Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I’m afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me,
but don’t be fooled,
for God’s sake don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me,
within as well as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water’s calm and I’m in command
and that I need no one,
but don’t believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it’s followed by acceptance,
if it’s followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It’s the only thing that will assure me
of what I can’t assure myself,
that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare to, I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me,
that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that’s really nothing,
and nothing of what’s everything,
of what’s crying within me.
So when I’m going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I’m saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying,
what I’d like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can’t say.

I don’t like hiding.
I don’t like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you’ve got to help me.
You’ve got to hold out your hand
even when that’s the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you’re kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings–
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
but wings!

With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator–an honest-to-God creator–
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.

Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me
the blinder I may strike back.
It’s irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.

Charles C. Finn
September 1966


Don’t Trust Your Feelings: Somatics and the Pre/Trans Fallacy – The Interchange Blog

Don’t Trust Your Feelings: Somatics and the Pre/Trans Fallacy – The Interchange Blog.

It’s easy for counselors, and the people we counsel, to get stuck in our heads.Counseling as we know it originated as “the talking cure”. Over the generations, counselors have discovered how to use dialogue as a powerful medium for facilitating change in our clients. Even at its best, however, conversation can only get us so far. We are more than mere talking heads.

In a tradition that has long been top-heavy, the growing prevalence of somatics has brought counseling back into balance,adding much-needed weight to the body’s role in healing and growth. “Soma” is the body, and body-oriented work takes us places talking never can, but just like mind-oriented work, it has significant limitations.

For those of us in the world of counseling who strive to live fully embodied lives, somatics has seemed like such a godsend that we can fail to recognize its limits. A practice that was once top-heavy can instead become headless, too much talking and thinking tipping over to become too much sensing and feeling. People get somatics happy and lose their balance.

This swing of the pendulum too far in the other direction happens when somatics supporters fall prey to a particular fallacy, elevating somatics to a transcendent position above the mind, instead of down below it where the body belongs. To understand how this fallacy, the pre/trans fallacy, grabs onto those of us who are proponents of somatics, we first have to take a moment to get embodied.

Why Counseling Needs Somatics

Human beings are physical creatures.Everything we’ve every experienced, we’ve experienced through our bodies. Despite our basic somatic nature, however, not all of us are equally embodied.

Most of us were raised in disembodied communities that devalued inner knowledge, emotional development, and present-time awareness. For instance, how many people do you know that learned to breathe in kindergarten? Basic instruction in breathing can help people develop the ability to calm or energize themselves at will, to tolerate strong emotions, and to stay rooted in the present moment. Nonetheless, we fail to teach our children how to take conscious control of their breathing. That kind of instruction doesn’t fit in a mostly-disembodied school system. Physical education exists in our schools, emphasizing important physical capacities such as strength, endurance, and coordination, needed for competitive athletics, but it tends to leave out everything else: inner sensory awareness, subtle energetics, all the many relational aspects of embodiment, and the embodied aspects of relationship.

Embodiment, as a result, is underdeveloped in many of us, and so somatics can fill in a wide range of missing developmental capacities. When counselors develop somatic awareness, and when we teach it to our clients, it provides at least three massive benefits to the counseling process.

  1. Trauma and emotional injury are not primarily cognitive experiences. Emotional hurts live in the muscles of the body, and in patterns of activation of the nervous and endocrine systems. Bypassing the content and meaning of emotional injury, instead directly addressing its somatic roots, can make healing more efficient and more thorough.
  2. The body provides numerous easy access points to the deeper levels of human experience. Attention to gesture, posture, facial expressions, voice intonations, and breathing allows us to attune to our clients’ inner experience. Directing our clients to strategically alter these non-verbal expressions, as well as working with movement, body symptoms, touch, and other kinds of physical contact, provides a repertoire of powerful interventions to explore and alter a person’s inner world.
  3. Teaching clients to track their “felt sense” experience, the constant stream of inner and outer sensations, opens them to learn essential somatic resources. For instance, we can teach people to self soothe, to become more grounded, or centered, or empowered, to sense and establish boundaries, to identify their needs and tell when those needs have been met, to follow or inhibit impulses, to sense their connection with others and deepen that connection, etc. All of these resources have strong somatic components.

Somatics opens up a new developmental world, especially to people who missed these developmental pieces growing up. It is akin to training a person who has never developed their mind in the arts of perception, memory, logic, language, and lateral thinking. If you have been stuck in your life and stuck in your head, somatics can expand your world. If you have tried to work on yourself in counseling by thinking and talking, but failed to get where you wanted to go, somatics can be the vehicle that gets you there.

If the head has been the problem, the body seems like the solution, but it isn’t. This is where the confusion begins. Rationality has its limits, especially when it comes to re-organizing a person’s inner experience, one of the basic goals of counseling. It seems that the way beyond these limits comes from embracing the non-rational, but it isn’t. Welcome to the pre/trans fallacy.

Somatics and The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The non-rational dimensions of human experience are divided into two categories, those which are below rationality on the ladder, and those which are above it. We commit the pre/trans fallacy (a concept introduced by psycho-spiritual philosopher Ken Wilber) when we collapse the pre-rational and the trans-rational into a single non-rational heap. Somatics is the realm of the pre-rational. Enamored with their newfound somatic abilities, many counselors, and the people they counsel, elevate somatics to the realm of the trans-rational, assuming that because it is non-rational, somatics must belong up on the pedestal of spirituality and higher development. This gets them into trouble.

To understand the origins of the trouble, a Wilberian-type diagram will help. Think of a person as a series of concentric spheres.

Each sphere includes everything within its nested spheres, and also transcends them.In the center is the body, where we begin: our physical, animal, biological nature, felt sense experience. The next level out is the emotions. Emotions include but transcend the body. Any time you’re feeling an emotion, you know what you’re feeling in part because of the sensations you have in your body, the physiological dimensions of the emotion. But emotions are more than just physical. The mind, the next level out, includes but transcends the body and emotions. We can focus our thoughts on body sensations and emotions; we can include the information we glean from our physical and emotional bodies in our thinking. But the mind is more than just physical and emotional. The witness is the next level out. If the mind is the mental organ, the witness is the spiritual organ. In fact, “spirit” could be included on this level, but I don’t want to lose my readers who are committed to a more mundane, secular perspective on the world, so I’m sticking with “witness”. You are able to witness your thoughts in the same way you can witness your sensations and emotions. Whatever is doing the witnessing therefore includes but transcends the mind. It is at this level that people are able to stop identifying with thoughts, feelings, and sensations, recognizing they are more than all of these put together.

These nested levels of human experience can also be divided into the pre-rational, the rational, and the trans-rational.

To understand the difference between pre-rational and trans-rational states, and why these states are sometimes confused, consider a couple of contrasts.

One contrast is between merging and oneness. At the beginning of our lives, we have not yet developed a sense of separate self. We exist in a kind of primordial fusion with our mothers, both pre-rational and pre-personal. Everyone begins this way. Later on, well after we acquire a sense of self, there is a stage of spiritual development, which only some people reach, superficially similar to this early merged state. In this advanced stage, the illusory nature of the separation between what is perceived as self, and what is perceived as other, becomes more and more apparent, producing empathy, compassion, and an experience of oneness with everything: both trans-rational and trans-personal. These two states, merging and oneness, are profoundly different. If you are caught up in a fused state of codependence with your romantic partner, boundaryless, unable to be happy unless they are, which of these two states do you imagine yourself to be in? I would bet you’re hanging out in the pre-rational. They’re not the same.

Another contrast is between intuition and integration. People love their intuitions, but an intuition is really just a sense of something that you have without understanding where it came from. This lack of understanding is an indicator that we are talking about a pre-rational state, and intuition, as often as not, is just a synonym for felt sense experience. As a San Francisco resident, this is a good place for me to mention that early on Ken Wilber referred to the pre/trans fallacy as “415 syndrome”, 415 being the area code of San Francisco. Here, perhaps more than anywhere, people revere intuition and other pre-rational forms of knowing as if they are states of spiritual attainment. Contrast this with someone who has integrated their somatic, emotional, and rational development and who has attained a level of understanding that transcends these levels. Such a person might be able to offer a rapid, synergistic insight that superficially looks like felt sense intuition. When pressed, however, they could back up and present the logical steps that led to their conclusion, demonstrating that higher faculties, not just the lower ones, contributed to the insight.

These contrasts, between merging and oneness, and between intuition and integration, demonstrate common confusions between pre-rational and trans-rational states. Imagine what would happen if, instead of mere confusion, reverence for pre-rationality was codified into a system for living.

Pitfalls of Somatics

Rediscovering the felt sense can be a revelation. All along, beneath the numbness or dissociation of disembodiment, the felt sense has been available as a constant stream of invaluable information. Uncovering this source of information makes all manner of things possible that weren’t before. For instance, someone who has struggled with indecision can now use the felt sense to help them evaluate their options. Some things feel wrong, others feel right; imagining taking one path leads to feelings matching those of poor decisions in the past, while imagining the other path leads to feelings like those that have accompanied times when life was better. As a person’s sensitivity deepens, these feelings provide ever more nuanced information about which path to take. This newfound sensitivity is so fascinating and exciting, that the person who develops it wants to use it for everything.

Unfortunately, the felt sense is a terrible guide to making decisions. Sensations and emotions are constantly shifting and changing. Important decisions should never be based on sensations and emotions, but instead on something more stable. The felt sense provides a key source of information, one that should be integrated with other sources of information to result in a decision backed by sound thinking. However, if you’ve been over-analyzing decisions your whole life and getting nowhere, the felt sense feels like the way to come back to life, and it is. Following the felt sense will lead to greater aliveness, but integrating the felt sense with well-developed rationality will lead to more holistic and sustainable decisions.

One strength of the somatics movement has been in the area of healthy, secure attachment. In cultural communities where the effects of violence and oppression are passed on from one generation to the next, which is pretty much all of them, our early relationships can be disrupted. This produces a population of people who struggle to form healthy, sustainable bonds. Relationships can feel unsafe, intimacy can produce anxiety, and people can oscillate between codependency and isolation. A somatic approach to relationship counseling often helps people establish the sense of secure connection they missed out on early in life. For instance, someone who is unable to bond with a romantic partner can develop that capacity, learning how to sense their connection to someone and to strengthen that sense of connection. Imagine the relief that can come from deeply sensing your connection to someone, and feeling safe with them, if you’ve never been able to sense that before. It can go far to solidify an unstable relationship.

Unfortunately, the existence of a bond between two people should not be the determinant of whether they remain in a relationship. Bonding is a necessary but insufficient condition for relationship. Determining whether a relationship makes sense occurs somewhere in the nexus of attachment, differentiation, and a host a variables that determine relational compatibility and sustainability. A newfound ability to bond, however, is so powerful it can become a person’s primary guide to action, saving them from old forms of relational dissatisfaction, only to introduce them to new ones. Instead, the sense of connection, or lack thereof, needs to be reduced back down to a valuable source of information, but only one of many sources that need to be integrated to make relational decisions. Ultimately, the ability to create meaningful bonds of all kinds, most of them non-romantic, may be a trans-rational capacity. Such a capacity can never be developed without first filling in the missing developmental ability to attach to one person. Secure attachment is the root. Don’t confuse it with the whole tree.

Somatics has been at the vanguard of trauma healing. Understanding of the physiology of shock and of overwhelm has led to somatic healing approaches. Clients can learn to slow down an otherwise overwhelming felt sense experience, to draw on learned somatic resources to make aversive feelings and memories more tolerable. Instead of getting overwhelmed or shutting down in response to traumatic memories, this slow approach, balancing challenging feelings with supportive resources, a bit at a time, allows people who have been badly hurt to release painful emotions and reorder their disorganized nervous systems. Even here, however, we need to remember that humans are not just bodies and emotions. The failure of analysis to produce healing has led many people to believe that it is only through the body that healing can happen. But remember, somatics just fills in missing, early developmental resources.

While it is true that healing cannot happen without somatic resources, it is also true that healing cannot happen without including the dimension of meaning-making through which humans make sense of our worlds. Even if you help a person who has experienced abuse to metabolize their terror, to stop contracting or shutting down in the face of intimacy, and to breathe deeply and sense their own power instead, they are still left with an entire ecology of faulty beliefs amassed over the years in which the trauma was locked in the body. Disentangling the beliefs (about whether people are trustworthy, about how vigilant they need to be, about whether it was their fault that they got hurt, etc.) will always still be necessary. Neither understanding alone nor somatics alone is enough. These levels need to be integrated for true healing to take place.

Integrating Somatics with Higher Development

Filling in missing developmental capacities, and strengthening weak ones, is a primary activity of counseling. Acquiring a new developmental ability, like the tracking of felt sense experience, or the ability to securely attach to someone, can change a person’s world dramatically. Somatics excels at helping people complete missing pieces of early development.

Let us, however, let soma be soma and nothing more. It’s so exciting to get our bodies back, and it should be, but taking up permanent residence at the lower levels of human development will not help us to integrate the pre-rational with the rational. Until such an integration occurs, the worthy goal of trans-rational development will be beyond our reach.

“You have to be somebody before you can be nobody.” Buddhist psychotherapist Jack Engler gave us this memorable sound bite. Higher development, and cultural evolution, requires that we transcend the flawed model of separate self. Like all developmental processes, this one requires steps in a particular order. To move through the world as an integrated person, you must develop a strong, stable sense of self. If you never developed basic somatic and emotional capacities, you’ll need these. If you never developed the capacity to think, you’ll need that too. A healthy ego, and a strong sense of self, requires embodiment, emotional self-awareness, and clear thinking informed by the somatic and emotional levels of our experience. Integrating these three levels is a prerequisite to be able to go beyond them. With a strong sense of self as a stable foundation, a more complete model of being human can develop and a larger self can be born.

Development never ends. Transcending rationality, and becoming our larger selves, is a developmental goal many people never reach. Somatics helps us prepare the ground. Don’t confuse it with the sky.


Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability | Video on TED.com

Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability | Video on TED.com.


“I Think We Should Just Be Friends.”

Beautiful and amazing post! You can feel the pain.

Thought Catalog

You are lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling. It is half past seven on a Sunday evening but you don’t feel like doing anything. All you want to do is curl up into a ball and cry, but the tears don’t come. Your eyes are hot and itchy, but you tell yourself it’s hayfever and carry on staring at the ceiling, the cracks and the blu-tack pockmarks and the falling down posters which you know so well.

You keep thinking back to that time when you lay next to them, and they looked up at the same ceiling as you, and they made jokes about your decor, and you laughed. You can’t seem to shake it, how you felt lying next to them, the feel of skin against skin. You were both naked, but it didn’t seem to matter. You were unabashed and — you are pretty sure…

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A Gestalt Update

I have picked up The Alphabet Versus the Goddess by Leonard Shlain again after finding it in an old box of my books. The book explores how the transition from images to words has caused masculine energy to be favored over feminine energy.

Here is a quick thought to consider for this blog: seeing the whole rather than the parts (i.e. gestalt) is a feminine principle…when I break my gestalt into Body, Heart, Mind, and Self…I am not using a feminine perspective. Knowing this, I may now take a more holistic view and explore how to write more femininely?


How Do We Know HOW to Fall in Love?

Is it any wonder we have a hard time determining who to love if we have never been in a relationship that led to commitment and marriage? How are we supposed to know what we want and need in a partner when we have never had the “right” one?

If we cannot truly know what the right partner looks until we have it already…maybe this is the wrong angle to take. I have wanted every partner I have evet had to be the right one…but they we appeared to have disagrees. Was I therefore wrong about my feelings? Is it just luck when you find someone who feels the same way at the same time?

We have to believe in our partners, believe they know what it means when they say, “I love you.” Even if our love ends before forever, we have to somehow trust ourselves and our partners. How do we learn this?

Love is indescribable. Love is not teachable from textbooks and chalkboards. Learning to love is a rite of passage; one that we all must go through alone. But how do we know we have got it right? Just like climbing a mountain, there are many false peaks to love.

As we are thrown into this trial by fire, the hardest challenge is to build our ability to trust ourselves. Advice and how-tos are everywhere; all professing to know the secret. How tempting it is, though, to want to help people find the light of love once you yourself have found it! It seems that you truly cannot hurry love, but you can make the road much more confusing.

Our knowledge of love may need to be built up over time like a stalactite. Unconsciously, knowledge has been filtering in from our own families and from the media. These thoughts and beliefs influence how we maneuver through the obstacles we will all face.

In the spring of our loving lives, we begin slowly, with beautifully irrational crushes; obsessions with some boy or girl in class who we get nervous around, dream about and stare at way too often. Without knowing it, we have begun our journey. It seems natural to start loving with this innocent romanticism.

This love is about developing our emotional hearts, exercising our love muscles. Looking back at my school-age crushes, my feelings were more about me than anything the boys were or did. It was one-sided practice love.

Teenage dating is practice of a different kind. Mutual attraction and affection allow basic exploration of the acts of love. We learn to kiss, hold hands, spend time together as more than friends, and, most importantly, how to communicate our love to our partner. By trying these first two-sided partnerships we experiment with what works and what feels good.

Are we really ever compatible because of shared interests or how we like to spend our Friday nights? Or is it just that we both decide to make the relationship work and be the best partner we can be for the other? My own interests change from year to year; my partners have all introduced me to new interests as well. I can adapt to spend my Fridays in new ways. So what is the essential element to a relationship that works?

Most romantic movies end with the first kiss, at the beginning of a beautiful romance. What comes after, Hollywood? What does it take to maintain love and commit to love? What are the characteristics of a husband or a wife that we should look for? I just want more than a passionate kiss.

So many of my married acquaintances speak about the ups and downs of marriage, complaining for themselves more than offering advice. I have never expected marriage to be utter bliss, but so many people seem to want out when things get hard. Our culture and times are making it acceptable to end relationships when they are no longer fun. Are we happier when we are unwilling to persist with our partners through the hard times and seek greener pastures or deeper pockets or younger breasts?

I just wish we could stop idealizing love by selling it short- by limiting the love stories we tell to the romance of the falling into love. We need more examples of love that lasts and deepens.

As I maintain an open heart to welcome another man who I can love, and by whom I can be loved, I am looking for one thing above all: the desire to actively participate in maintaining and sustaining love. I want someone who knows that love gets better with age, that love is much more than a first kiss.

I am not done learning yet myself, but I am putting aside as much advice as I can, getting in touch with what I truly want and trying to find a really good partner for myself…not just a good person, a good friend, or even a good potential father. Those all can be aspects of the person, but I took those pieces of advice too literally, and I have forgotten to find my own “definition” of Mr. Right may be defined differently and that too is part of this process.


Compassionate Dating?

Dear Heart,

Let me first commend you for taking the bold step of starting to date again! Well done! I know you were very anxious about dating again, because you prefer being in a relationship to searching for one. Let Us take a moment, to remind Our Self that attitude matters so much when dating. If you can approach dating with an excitement, thinking, “I may meet a great love today!” you can transform your dating jitters into something far more enjoyable.

I am not sure what part of Us can take responsibility for Our dreams, but We had a nightmare last week about this blind date. So many factors in the dream led to greater and greater anxiety before even meeting the date, so Our dream self was in no fit for anything…and We woke up with our physical heart thumping and the rest of Us very unsettled. To avoid having the chance to get anxious We scheduled the date right after a discussion of the Tao Te Ching (and I was actually a bit late as a result).

I came to the date, fully present and engaged, practicing Buddhism’s lovingkindness for this other individual who was seeking love. We were both searching for happiness, both for the evening and for our future. I came without expectation, without desperation, without a need to find a body to touch, or a heart to love. My attention was open, come what may.

So, Heart, you were open, but i also sense you were guarded in some small way…but no, that cannot be true. What I can see as being guarded is just less desperate and eager to find love. You were calm! It is amazing to see how you have evolved.

Our Mind was quite entertained and engaged by our date, wouldn’t you agree? The conversation flowed well and was deep while still being quite playful. Mind was definitely intrigued, but thankfully, not the only part of Us that was engaged…

A truly important feature to the experience of human love is physical chemistry. And, Body was not feeling intrigued by this date. Basically, Body was enjoying the wine and not expecting to be called up to bat on a first date. I had made it clear that I was not someone what wanted physical intimacy on a first date. Well, our date decided to kiss me, and We let it happen, but Body was shocked by the absolute absence of any feeling in response!

How many times have we all heard that the first kiss can really help determine if there is chemistry? I only partially bought it…I never had fireworks explode on a first kiss, but I have had bad ones before…but mostly I knew already that I was not interested before those former kisses occurred. Mind thought We wanted to see this man again, Heart was waiting to be more appealed to, but Body vetoed this poor man absolutely! Our kiss was so bad, that my lips did not feel like they were mine, and neither his nor mine felt like living flesh! It was too long for a first-date first kiss and it was not executed well. Our overall opinion went from an optimistic “there is potential here!” to a confident “there will be no second date!” in seconds.

Unfortunately, our first kiss was not our last kiss. He kissed me goodbye in the same way, causing me to endure it out of lovingkindness, but then having to laugh it away after I was safely in the subway station alone.

When this gentleman texted me eagerly this morning to ask for a second date, I had to reflect on how my open,genuine enjoyment of our time together could be perceived by a date as confirmation of equal attraction. I knew I had to refuse his request, but could not anticipate the task with joy. The truth of the matter was, I did enjoy myself, and I was glad to have met him. I think we had lots of things in common, but it was just simply and truly not enough for us to have a romantic relationship. I employed lovingkindness again in my reply.

I am curious, Heart, what you feel is the best way to date with compassion. There is so much advice that recommends being yourself when on a date, but in this world where love is so hard to feel on a day to day basis from strangers around us, I worry that my attitude of lovingkindness is not truly kind to the people who are misinterpreting it to mean I am really interested in them. Mind, is whispering these worries in my ear, so I am going to just say one more thing on this subject…mainly to Mind…

By practicing lovingkindness last night both my date and I had a wonderful night. By practicing lovingkindness as I told my date I was not interested in pursuing our relationship further, I received a very lovely and respectful response that seemed to only express gratitude as well. So my dears, let Us continue to practice lovingkindness, since it seems to be working just fine!

Kindly,

Self


Dearest overactive Mind,

First of all, let me express how sorry I am that our Body has returned to enjoying so much coffee. You are quite jumpy as a result, I see. It seems very likely that hormones are at work today too. It is a good day to practice self and be very attentive of all that is transpiring.

You are being very willful about how We all spend Our time today. I am inclined to liken you to a petulant child who is tired of being stuck inside on a rainy day and has decided to take out his angst on everyone around him. And I, like the parent who is losing patience, have grown quite tired. By increasing Self-awareness I am attempting to help you choose to use your incredible power of thought to Our advantage, but We are still learning.

I have let you have your way for so long, Mind, and change is coming even if it is hard for you accept this. I am setting boundaries with you, because it is not OK for you to harbor so many negative thoughts about Us or other things in the world. This does not promote happiness, but only perpetuates suffering.

I have heard what you thought, and instead of commiserating with your plea for pity, I am charging you to turn your complaints into some form of constructive action. So, if you feel We erred in some way, find away to atone for this mistake. Likewise, if you creating problems because you are bored, look for an actual problem that could benefit from your attention.

My last address to you concerns your present treatment of Heart. Our dear, dear Heart has a lot of emotions to deal with today as do you. We are being mindful of the affect of hormones on all of us. But you and Heart take very different approaches to your respective concerns, so give Heart some space today. Today is not a day to analyze what is happening to Heart. The best help any of Us can offer each other is love and acceptance. 

Now, let you both be off to your separate corners of consciousness, to practice being self-reliant. You are both safe here, I am watching, everything is ok here.

Firmly,

Self


Thoughts for the Heart,

Oh Heart,

I want to help you deal with this situation, but all my ideas don’t seem to help you, I want to take action, stand up for you. I feel like your big brother and I just want to go fight the problem, because I hate to see you hurting. I am not too good with just listening to you, letting you cry. I am trying though, and I hope you can tell.

So, here is what I understand about how you are feeling; let me prove to you I was paying attention this time:

We have already determined you are hurting over this break-up, but I also get this idea that you still love him. I think that is so weird. Can’t you just stop that? This would all be over then? Well, anyways, this love may be different than the love you had before, right? You are learning to transform the love you offered actively to love that you feel for all beings. I think that is what you said, I can understand that, I guess. 

You must be struggling to do that though, because I know you want to be able to take him back. You want it, even though we both know that it wouldn’t be a good idea. I know our Self has been helping you understand that you were doing too much in that relationship for us all to be healthy. We want you to still love our Self too. I hope I have helped you understand that you are ready for a big Love and none of us here think that guy was ready for it himself. 

I know you have a much shorter memory than I do, so I want to offer you my services whenever you need it, to remember how much you were hurting towards the end. How much you were trying to get him to notice you again, to love you back even a little. And remember too that you figured it out it was time to leave, you LEFT HIM! All of us are so proud of you for doing that, even though you hated doing it so much. We remember your pain then too!

You are such a wonderful Heart! You have so much love to give, and you were doing all you could for him, and he no longer wanted to accept it and give any back to you. That is HIS loss! I am barely holding back my own desire to march over there and DEMAND an explanation, but I know that wouldn’t make you feel better. This is hard for me too. I hate not understanding why this happened. I thought he loved you better than anyone before, and I really saw his potential to become your true partner, but he wasn’t ready for that.

When you wanted to go back to him, back to loving him, I understood that. You thought you had made a mistake and I know you were not the perfect lover in that relationship, so you told him how you felt, and you really wanted to believe he felt like returning to you. I am sorry that I encouraged you to believe him then. If I had my say in who you love, it would be someone that doesn’t confuse ME so much, but I know it is not fully up to me.

Your anger at him makes so much sense too, dear Heart. It was a shock when you returned from that trip to hear him being so cavalier about your feelings. Perhaps he showed his true colors to you then. Something I read recently made me think of you: I was reading Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness and she said that passion and sentimentality can both be confused for real love. The way she described sentimentality made me think of how he treated you. Let me see if I have the quote…

“Sentimentality, the other mental state that masquerades as love, is really an ally of delusion. It is a facsimile of caring that limits itself only to experiences of pleasure.”

-Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness

Do you recall, how he did not want to deal with you when things got difficult or challenging? He would run away from problems and always said everything was OK, even when it wasn’t. He is not ready for LOVE if that is how he deals with you. Hopefully, you have helped him get a little closer to being able for that, Heart.

Just stay strong, and heal. We all know how to give you your space, and I hope you come to us for support if you need it. Remember to pay attention to yourself, perform the act of loving (which you do so well) for your own benefit.

Thoughtfully,

Mind


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