Our true feelings might not be politically correct, but getting past them means admitting them to ourselves.
This article originally appeared at Reality Sandwich.
It's a typical Bioenergetic healing session. My client in his late 20s (we'll call him Dave here) shares how a female colleague, Sarah, is constantly begging and bothering him to complete her tasks for her. I ask Dave to sink into his feelings each time this situation arises and share what actions he would like to take based on his own emotions. A sense of anger and resentment immediately charge the space between us and, strangely, I end up whispering to myself, "Please say you want to hit her, say you want to hit her." As awful as it might sound (especially given its violent nature), from several years of therapeutic spiritual practice, I have come to recognize this powerful psychological shadow material is exactly what needs to be acknowledged and expressed for real healing to occur, and to avoid future unconscious aggression.
Knowing Dave, I'm fairly sure that, like most of my clients, he is too polite and "kind" to express such unsavory thoughts, but then Dave's eyes widen brightly, his shoulders relax, and his chest opens proudly as if suddenly relieved and empowered by an unseen force. "Oh, my God," he smiles, shaking his head in disbelief, "I totally want to punch her!"
Now that Dave has courageously uncovered (and connected with) the 800-pound emotional gorilla in the office cubicle, we can help guide the gorilla out of the corner so that he can move and transform. Examining the scene closer, Dave suddenly realizes that he can never look Sarah in the eyes when she annoys him.
We have now successfully tracked down gorilla No. 2: the shame Dave experiences from holding anger toward Sarah. As I had initially suspected, potent emotional force impregnates this seemingly small office interaction. Dave is suffering from what we in Bioenergetics call a "double bind." While Dave is incapable of exhibiting his anger toward Sarah because he, and society at large, view that emotion as shameful or unworthy (and also potentially dangerous), he also can't free himself from those guilty feelings without first expressing them.
Rather than either/or solutions, the healing response usually offers unexpected both/and possibilities, where a "miraculous" third way emerges, one that egoic thinking and societal conditioning normally miss. In this alternative scenario, Dave grants himself permission to experience 100 percent of his anger, free of guilt, while still holding love for himself and, ultimately, for Sarah. This third path heals and unifies rather than divides and punishes.
Through some brief exercises, I share with Dave how to allow the charged energy to circulate safely up and down his spine, flowing forcefully and naturally, without him ever projecting it back on Sarah or internalizing it into his own body as guilt. By letting his anger move, instead of pushing it down, Dave is able to temporarily feel the power of his anger while simultaneously holding a space of love for both of them. Given this freedom, he soon lands at a place of personal empowerment where he can even thank Sarah for teaching him an important lesson about his own wounding and its emotional healing.
The main purpose of this kind of Bioenergetic process work (my spiritual and healing practice) is to unblock stuck or crossed energies in the human energy field, much like the holistic practices of yoga, acupuncture, thai chi or qi gong. At its finest, Bioenergetics is staggeringly improper, unwaveringly un-PC, wonderfully iconoclastic and warriorfully liberating. It asks clients to leap into emotional terrain they falsely believe to be off-limits, to move beyond their fear threshold ("the death layer" as Bioenergetic pracitioners call it), to connect with, and own, their own emotions as unredeemably dark as they might appear to be; thus, enabling them to reclaim unintegrated aspects of their lost self.
Read the rest of this article at Reality Sandwich.
Image: "scream" by mRio, licensed under Creative Commons.