Saturday, April 17, 2010

Separatio: Dissolving Negative Beliefs and Emotional Blockages


In Thoughts Without a Thinker Mark Epstein shares an encounter between a Zen master and Kalu Rinpoche, a Tibetan monk. This was intended to be "dharma combat," the clashing of great minds. The Zen master, obviously ready to parry any response, held up an orange and asked repeatedly "What is this?" "What is this?"

After several moments of silence, the Tibetan whispered to the monk beside him, who then translated: "Rinpoche says, 'What is the matter with him? Don't they have oranges where he comes from?'" Rinpoche had ended the debate by shifting focus to the Zen master's own questioning.

Sometimes people rely on intellect to make sense of the world and their existence in it. It's important as a coach to meet them where they are, inviting them to question their own assumptions, but without being drawn into dharma combat.
Separatio, separating wholes into components, separating the essence of dissolution from its wastes. This refers to "dismembering" the personality, retrieving the energy released by dissolution of negative beliefs and emotional blockages.
My client John began our conversations with his usual intellectual fervor. He articulated very clearly his desire to "become aware of my assumptions, biases, and limitation and begin consciously choosing different assumptions and points of view." Notice in his self-description below how John first had to access his beliefs through intellectual awareness, and only gradually became aware of his emotions:
A deep interest in Jung came in realizing this was a fascinating way to understand myself and others. Jungians say you need to have some contact with your unconscious to develop the axis between your ego and your inner core. Having a mental framework has legitimized it for me. I like the whole intellectual idea that we've been living in some kind of unconscious activity, and we try to get out of being "asleep."

When my marriage ended it was a blow to my self-esteem. Specifically, I realized I didn't understand what feelings were all about. My wife accused me of not having feelings, of being too logical, and I didn't know what she was talking about. Finally, I realized intellectually I needed to do something, and that's when I sought help. I had to accept all this horrible unconscious stuff, and finally realized I really did have feelings. I realized I was just thinking too much. Now I reveal more when I'm comfortable with someone, noting, for example, "I'm probably too much in my head right now."

I see this whole process as a Hero's Journey. You receive a call, you engage in the search, then there's a struggle, you have a breakthrough, and you return -- somehow changed. One way the call has been particularly clear is with a university course on personal development I'm now teaching. After I retired, I was just living my life when I got a phone call from an old friend who was leaving town and asked me to take over for her. It appealed to something inside of me at an intuitive level, not verbal, and I decided to try it out. I cannot believe the response of people taking this course -- the warmth, and love. It's been great, wonderful! It's taken me outside of my house and outside of myself.
(See also Calcinatio, Solutio, Solificatio, Nigredo, Mortificatio, Sublimatio, Coagulatio)

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