Thursday, July 5, 2012

Trauma Victims and The Work

Samsara addresses Trauma Victims and The WorkI have been wanting to talk about this for a while but was only recently made re-aware when I wrote the article, "Engaging in Risky Sexual Behavior" at my website only to later address the ego and its functions here in "Attaching to Thoughts."

Both were in the context of a Byron Katie video that had a mother holding stressful thoughts about her daughter and her sexual behaviors. In the context of that video, mom makes the statement, "I had to live through her getting raped." And right on cue I went right to compassion for the daughter that superseded my already strong compassion for her life in the face of her mom's judgment on her sex life. I tended to agree with Katie in that her 'sexual behavior' could have been 'therapy.'

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Attaching to Thoughts

ego and the mind's job is to validate what it thinks

Thoughts are not the problem. 

Believing them is a different story.

No matter any thought that goes through my mind, I never have a problem until I believe it and it's the mind's job is to believe what it thinks. I have no problem when I am thinking wonderful happy thoughts. But when I have hooked into a stressful thought and begin romancing it, there's my pain. For people who love to say, "Pain's a given. Suffering is optional," I would like to say that is not my experience. Who chooses to suffer in the face of experiential freedom? Until I became aware that I was not my thoughts, it was not a choice. I invite you into that awareness.

Attaching to Daughter's Risky Sexual Behavior

"Again, I had to live through her getting raped."

The below video, in which I reference in "Risky Sexual Behavior" on my website, I wanted to use to talk about what it looks like when a person is very attached to a thought. I do not do this to pick on the woman because we've all done it or do it; But to show the way the ego mind works, evincing proof that although we may not like or enjoy our suffering, but in the face of our ego (or what we believe) being threatened we'll often dig our heels in, in order to somehow prove or legitimize that suffering.

There are quite a few instances (and edits) that I notice in this video that the woman is making clear she does not desire to let go of the story that her daughter is engaging in risky sexual behavior. But here she is at a Byron Katie meeting sharing her "Inquiry" aloud and is doing "The Work" in front of people and with Katie.

Let's Look at how the Ego Works to Protect its Suffering

Despite that the Dear Woman is Faced with Byron Katie DOING "The Work"

inquiry or the work asks four questions
 1.)  As the video starts, Byron Katie asks, "Engages in risky sexual behavior. Is that true?" Mother answers immediately: "It is true."

Without a pause, that woman is holding to that. She is not letting go. And not only is it true, but it is true (that her daughter engages in risky sexual behavior). She emphasized the 'is' because the Ego senses the war about to ensue.

And this is probably precisely why there is such a second question, "Can you absolutely know that it is true?" because the Ego is most powerful in the mind of the one it is controlling isn't it? But hey, Katie does not play. She assumes you want an end to your suffering or you would not be there. I love that.

In my own experience, I suggest a mental slowing down before responding to the first question because it gives me an opportunity to let my ego take a minute off from being right or 'knowing' what it thinks it knows. And if you don't think my ego knows everything it thinks it does, ask it. :)
2.)  So of course, Katie hits the second question, "Can you absolutely know that it's true that she engages in risky sexual behavior?" Again, without pause or contemplation, "Yes." 

And it's a strong yes. It's not waffling or waning. The ego is about to do battle and no hostages! Byron Katie, The Work, it is undeterred! "I don't care what you think you're about to do, I'm here to stay."  This woman, without pause, in this moment knows with absolute certainty that x, y, z - because does it matter what it is at this point? What she thinks she knows is just the vehicle for the Ego's expression. It could easily be that 2 + 2 = 4.

The point is not whether it IS true or NOT. The point of this - in my practice - is to release the ego's grip on me so that I can release my beloved (?) suffering and gain freedom. But while I am caught up in my story and the believing of it, the Ego is hiding and cloaking or otherwise obfuscating itself.
"Can you absolutely know that it's true?" is a LOT different than the first question. If your answer is "No." from the 1st question of Inquiry there is no point in the 2nd question. On the other hand, If your answer is Yes to the first question, then this 2nd question is asking you to hold up your 'Yes' up to 'absolute knowing.' Absolutely knowing anything is huge. When I hear people absolutely knowing a thing, that does tell me the depth of the Ego's grip in that I know the story of my own Ego and there is no such thing as a new stressful thought; They just wear different faces. And if I let them, they can be perfect vehicles for Clarity. :)
3.)  And Katie continues, "How do you react? What happens to your life when you think this thought?" Notice, now, how Mother is slowing down. She even removes her glasses to think about her gamut of emotions.
This is the opportunity to really use the imagination to re-visit the feelings and emotions this painful belief produces. My brain makes thoughts and yours might too. :) Regardless of whether these thoughts come from a collective consciousness [a la HSP] or a subconscious something that I am unaware is happening or even the obvious external stimuli [ie, Beloved is late and he is on his motorcycle. Oh my gosh, what if he is dead? And into the terrifying future I go.], these thoughts of mine happen. And I've also noticed there is no problem with them happening - ever - unless I travel with them to the future or the past.

4.)   So then Katie explains how we see images and then we experience emotions. Katie asks [01:27 on the video] : "Is that imagination or is that your daughter?" Mother answers, "It's history."

Ah. So the Ego opts for 'None of the above!' and instead chooses an answer that [it thinks] legitimizes itself. "I'll go with otherwise legitimate sounding concepts that legitimize my suffering, Alex!" And yes, it's funny to think of it this way but this Mother is very attached and no doubt she has a real problem because she thinks she does. I do love so very much how she absolutely does not let The Work or Katie off the hook by answering like she thinks she is supposed to but rather how she genuinely feels and thinks. This is what I love to see.
By not being honest with where I am in whatever I am in, I am unable to bring my problem's face to the light. And as long as I keep it hidden, it's a secret. And when it's a secret, it operates. And when it's done being a secret or I expose it to the light, I can disinfect it. It's the first step. And pretending I have no problem, or pretending I have the 'right' or 'desirable' answers in whatever situation, my secret can remain hidden, doing its job. And this does not mean we trust our 'secrets' with just anybody.
5.)  Katie asks her again after offering logical evidence that because the audience 'sees' her daughter, although never even having met her, it's obviously 'our' imagination! Notice the woman's discomfort. Her elbow shifts and she looks as if she feels defeated when she answers, "Imagination."

We are able to 'see' the daughter who engages in 'risky sexual behavior' and the fact we see no face doesn't stop us does it? We're imagining all sorts of 'risky sexual behavior' maybe and we have no 'history' to tie it to do we? Imagination is the clear and obvious winner.

6.) "Who would you be, in that moment, without the thought, '________ engages in risky sexual behavior?'"  [02:30 on the video] And the woman says nothing until Katie says, "And it's easy to find if you look at yourself just prior to the thought." 

The woman answers "Right" so quickly it seems as if she is trying to cut Katie off at the pass. And if this is not evidence of a strongly inclined ego, listen to her inflection of "Yes" when Katie continues, "Weren't ya great?" Her Yes sounds like a 'So what? Shut Up!' Then the woman tries to interrupt as Katie puts forth another question asking if it's her daughter doing that to her or her thoughts.

I am not picking on this woman. I have done this. You have done this. This IS the human condition. Our mind's job is to believe and validate what it thinks otherwise what is the point of it?  I 'believe' that when I put the key in the car it will start. If I did not believe this I would not put the key in the ignition. I 'believed' that when I planted my garden, that it would yield vegetables, otherwise what was the point of it? I 'believe' that as I get into my car and drive that I will not die in a car accident on that trip. And our 'beliefs' are not necessarily what make Reality. My car fails, my garden rots, and I die in a car accident despite my beliefs.
The mind is good, yes. Very good. Very amazing. Very capable. But at the same time, we turn these 'Beliefs' into God and we worship at the altar of our minds without any room for Reality or Awareness. And so we suffer. And we suffer in the name of morals or God or the Devil or intellect or fear or regret or, in the case of this woman, the name of her daughter... it just goes on. And as long as we can attach a concept to it, the suffering is legitimate.
7.)   Byron Katie then asks for the turnarounds. She asks the woman where had she been engaging in risky sexual behavior. After a couple of examples, [05:35 on the video] The Woman/Mother says, "Well, again, I had to live through her getting raped."

Now I am not sure if this woman meant that one to be an example of how she engaged in risky sexual behavior herself and so is 'triggered' when she thinks of her daughter living in 'risky sexual behavior' mode or if this woman's ego was STILL vying for legitimacy. I am not sure. But it seems as if Katie is thinking the latter when she says, "Oh that's a good one!" and goes onto say one rape was enough without her mother raping her over and over again in her mind
She had to live through her daughter's rape. Well. My first thought is, "If you lived through it, why did she have to?" Co-opting another person's pain/tragedy into my own story is a victim/martyr mentality. [See Codependency]
Codie Joke: "My husband's got cancer! My mom's got Alzheimer's! My sister broke her foot! My daughter got pregnant and my son's getting bullied! Why is this happening to me?"


Carl Jung said, "Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering." The only legitimate suffering I have found is the one that challenges my ego on its face. And when this happens, in embracing the 'suffering' of my ego, I can not attach to it so seriously. It's not that I have killed it; Rather it has dissolved its stronghold. Inversely, to 'protect' my ego is to adopt a stance that you are my enemy; That everything is my enemy that challenges my 'correctness.' And in my particular versions of suffering, I can validate that I was indeed neurotic. I protected my victim-hood like a newborn baby and how dare you not engage in my mythology. Guess what? You're the enemy now.

Loving What Is
Going into Byron Katie's The Work may be more of a challenge for those very attached to their beliefs, and I was one such person. Even so, based in my own experience, as well as friends I have worked with, the only qualities needed that would yield the results of non-suffering were H.O.W. I absolutely did not come into The Work not attached to my pain, but I did come to it in Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness.

I hope the woman in the above video has experienced freedom since her meeting with Katie. Like my own, I honor her process and I appreciate her honesty. And I appreciate the laughter and joy in witnessing how ego is still using the same tricks. It's just not as clever as I once thought it was.