Category Archives: Confusion theory

Expressing anger responsibly

For years I experienced high levels of frustration that would manifest itself as body tension and violent fantasies.  In my dream world I would be an avenger inflicting violence on those who deserved it (usually thieves, disrespectful chavs, or litter louts).  In the real world though I was afraid of violence and not sure if it was the fear of being hurt or the fear of the consequences of hurting someone else.

After I trained as a therapist I was comfortable with all emotions except anger and would unconsciously pussy foot around the subject for fear of provoking my clients.  In my training I had been taught very little about the practicalities of working with angry or violent people.

It was not until 2010, on a somewhat esoteric shamanic training, that I learned how to engage with anger directly and work with it effectively.  It was a turning point for my practice and for me.

Now anger is one of the emotions I’m most interested in at the beginning of therapy.  I have a number of ‘anger meditations’.  They are crucial for people who’s anger is very much on the surface and being expressed in ways that are hurting other people or themselves.  They can also be very useful for clients who claim to have no anger in them as often these are the people who are experiencing most frustration.  Anger contains so much energy … and containing it also requires so much energy.  Relieving the pressure inside frees this energy up and transforms frustration into a powerful assertiveness that is especially useful for reconnecting and clearing out connections with others.  I see these relationship connections as the pipes in my plumbing analogy.

This video shows some of the anger meditations that I recommend to my clients for practice both within the therapy room and at home.  The idea is to practice ways of connecting with and moving the anger responsibly – so that you, the objects around you, and the people around you are safe.  The video includes:

  • Punching anger meditation
  • Cushion slamming anger meditation
  • Vocal anger meditation (with the Howl Towel)
  • Silent screaming
  • Throwing anger meditation
  • Tantruming anger meditation

I don’t claim that these meditations will completely resolve any anger issues you may have.  But they should take the pressure out of any frustration and provide a set of safer ways that you can channel your anger as and when it arises.

Advertisements

Psychotherapy for 2nd generation holocaust survivors

Consider the last time you threw a rock into a calm lake … the ripples from that impact can end up travelling a long way and taking quite a while to settle back down. If they reflect from other objects in the lake then the resulting addition and cancellation of the waves can create patterns that would be difficult to predict.

And so it is with trauma. Complex symptoms can often have simple root causes when you look deep enough. The thing that many people are surprised to find out is that the root cause may not even be in their lifetime. Much of the work I do with people involves healing traumas from their parents’ lives, their parents’ parents lives, or even beyond.

How could something that happened so long ago, and to someone else, possibly be affecting you? The last century of European history certainly contains many situations of almost unimaginable suffering. That anyone could live through those situations without any physical or psychological scars would be surprising.

Consider someone who lived through the holocaust of world war two. If they didn’t see horror directly then chances are they were painfully aware of it. If they survived then they probably knew many other people who didn’t. Their survival may have come as a result of other people’s sacrifices. But they coped. And got through it.

When we experience traumatic situations we often don’t have the luxury of being able to process them at the time. If action is required then better we take it in order to survive. The problem comes if we never take the time to really reflect upon the past and allow the emotions to move through us. The unresolved emotional content stays with us in our body but becomes partitioned off. A psychological no-go zone.

All parent’s unconsciously invest their hopes and dreams in their children. For survivors of a significant traumatic time such as the holocaust then what better evidence of their survival than to bring in a new generation? The children pick up their parents’ attitudes – which will now be coloured by their experiences of scarcity, helplessness, or physical danger. Children realise that there are certain things that trigger their parents to become upset. They may feel responsible for this upset and may even be blamed for it and told off for being ‘bad’. While their physical needs may be being met it may be like they are walking on emotional eggshells.

And eventually they have children of their own. These are usually the clients I see. Clients with anxieties, relationship problems, or psychological blocks that are difficult to pin down as they often can’t point to anything significantly traumatic in their lives. And they are often quick to emphasise that their parents tried their best and did a good job of bringing them up. Despite that they often describe their parental relationship as either ‘very close’ or ‘distant’ … both of which bring their own relationship challenges.

By working back through the generations I can help reconnect both the maternal and paternal family lines. In the client’s imagination I start to open up a channel of honest communication with their mother. As the truth begins to flow then it is likely to bring up unresolved emotional content from the mother’s childhood. I work to reconnect the mother to her mother (alive or dead … it makes no difference as I am working through my client’s imagination). As the truth flows back another generation it starts to nudge on the mum’s mum’s psychological no-go zones. This is where the real healing needs to happen. Mum’s mum gradually remembers the times that she decided to forget. She reconnects with her younger self. She allows the sensations to move through her body and complete.

When the major trauma is healed then mum’s mum is feeling more herself. She is totally available for her daughter. She can take anything her daughter has to throw at her. And then hugs her (usually). Her daughter (my client’s mum) feels safe and grows up. She is less reactive and more available for her partner (my client’s father). Once the father’s side is also clear then any relationship issues can be sorted out and it becomes clear between them. In their imagination my client may see their mum and dad hugging. And then be invited into that loving space between them. In this healing space my client gets what they need. Finally their problems simply melt away.

I am very grateful to a client for providing the following links:
New Israeli study finds signs of trauma in grandchildren of Holocaust survivors
The impact of the holocaust on survivors and their children

Hypnotic Ayahuasca? Purging parasitic energies from the body

Is it possible that puking into a bucket could be a cutting edge therapeutic technique?  I believe the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.  In this article I’ll describe my experience of purging, explore some theories and give some pointers for therapists keen on including it as part of their tool bag.

My experience

In Autumn 2010 my girlfriend Max and I arrived back from a course on Shamanic Sexual Healing run by Baba Dez of the Sedona Temple. As you can imagine the week had been pretty intense and had involved working with many of the participants’ deeply held traumas. We were together in the lounge and I was commenting on an icky feeling of revulsion that I notice in my gut from time to time when we are together. Max then asked me what I immediately recognized as a brilliant question: ‘What does it smell like?’

As I turned my imaginary nose towards the feeling in my belly I realized that, even though I had no conception of what it would smell like, I was, nevertheless, afraid of smelling it. I allowed myself to become fully aware of this fear, faced it, felt it, and chose to smell the thing I could feel. As I made this decision my body jerked into a cough. The cough became more and deeper coughs. I noticed that I was afraid that I would be sick; and turned towards this fear too. The coughs continued. Some liquid was ejected, projectile like, from my mouth and my thoughts pinged briefly to a scene from the film ‘The Exorcist’.

Thankfully the vomiting didn’t last long but the coughs became spasms moving through my whole body and making me utter groaning sounds that I’ve never heard before. The first wave lasted over an hour. Max sat with me, calmly, through these and for all the waves to come; a comforting witnessing presence. The next wave of contractions lasted for less than an hour and subsequent waves for less and less time and with longer periods of lucidity in between. The experience was reminiscent of contractions during a birth. All in all it lasted for about four and a half hours.

The next day I was somewhat wide eyed – did I dream all that? It was as if something very special had happened and I felt like I had been partly cleansed but that there was more yet to go. Though it was certainly intense it was not scary. It felt natural – like my body had been waiting for an opportunity to do it.

A natural process

When we are out in the jungle hunting and gathering and we eat the wrong kind of berry the body’s natural action is to eject the toxins the quickest way possible – usually the way they came in. From that moment on the body remembers the experience and reminds us not to eat those berries again by associating them with feelings of disgust. In addition to the personal experience it is noticed that vomiting in one person tends to induce feelings of nausea and vomiting in others. This makes sense in the food gathering example as if your friend has just eaten something toxic there is a good chance that you have too.

The disgust association can also be socially conditioned. When mothers see their child exploring ‘dirty’ things with their mouths and teach their offspring to find it disgusting by making ‘eaugh’ noises, pulling a face and removing the offending item from their mouths (often causing their children to start crying in the process). Later, as we learn language, we learn to be sickened by the events described in other people’s stories. All this has a massive benefit in terms of learning from other people’s mistakes.

In addition to the vomit response after imbibing I have noticed that people can tend to feel nauseous or vomit during intense exercise, before an anxiously anticipated event or after an intensely traumatic experience such as a fight.

I wonder if it is part of the body’s ‘fight or flight’ parasympathetic nervous response? This response aims to free up energy in the body by stopping immediately non-essential actions in the body and prioritizing body functions that are necessary for intense physical activity. Faced with the stressful situation the body releases feces and urine and slows or stops digestion. The heart rate rises, focus narrows and energy is released into the muscles ready for action. After the action the body begins to shake … believed by many to be a way of the muscles releasing toxins in order to recover.

Could it be that vomiting before a stressful situation means that there is less weight to carry and less food to digest? Could it be that vomiting after a stressful situation is another way of the body releasing physical toxins?

The problem

The problem comes when the feelings of disgust are felt with respect to things that are not actually dangerous to our body. And because the feeling of nausea is so unpleasant we may well have learned to avoid these things without even knowing that we are avoiding them. Often it takes a serious amount of awareness and honesty to realize what we are actually disgusted by. When we avoid facing these things we get to avoid feeling sick. But we also get to avoid a part of life; part of ourselves.

What do you turn away from? Sex? Intimacy? Blood? Violence? Death? Anything else?

Hypothesis

It makes sense to me that the body should vomit when it becomes aware of some kind of foreign body inside that doesn’t belong. On the physical level this foreign body could be some bad food; on the subtle level it could be some kind of toxic energy.

What do I mean by ‘toxic energy’? If someone said ‘I’ve got this black, noxious, sticky tar-like substance at the pit of my stomach’ then (unless they’ve literally been eating tar) you would not see this if you cut them open. It is in their imagination and made out of subtle energy. They experience it as if it was real. If you asked them if that energy belonged to them I’m pretty sure that they would say no.

How did this energy get inside in the first place? I’m not exactly sure. But have you ever experienced someone making you feel disgusted? Could it be that they are pushing the disgust they feel into your subtle body? Have you ever been made to feel so ashamed that you wanted the ground to swallow you up? Could it be that when the ground does swallow you up then you swallow a subtle entity that was living in the ground?

When we get in the way of our body’s natural process of vomiting the toxic matter stays in the body and the unwanted feelings of revulsion persist in our lives. When we control our body, the parasitic entity is really controlling us.

The quickest and most complete way of changing a pattern of avoidance is to face the thing that is feared. To vomit even though it is unpleasant to do so.

Purging in shamanic ritual

Ayahuasca is a well known shamanic ally substance used in the Peruvian Amazon. It is known to have permanent positive effects on mind-body illnesses including depression, addiction and schizophrenia.

Meghan Shannon is an American living in Peru.  Here are some extracts from her article ‘What is Ayahuasca…Really…?’

‘Most of us walk around every day, thinking we are the ones running our lives. But like the anger entity, there are tons and tons of energy patterns, crossed energies and spirits literally along for the ride, hidden inside like internal luggage …

‘The purge is what makes the Ayahuasca unique. That’s why it works so fast. Because it is physically pulling this stuff out of your body. You can do all the energy and spiritual work you want, but until these dark entities physically leave the body, you are still walking around struggling against them. You may have gotten a pretty good handle on them, but it’s so normal you don’t know how much energy would be freed up if they weren’t there …

‘The purges can be challenging, make no mistake. Often (but not always) the person feels the energy or emotion as it is leaving the body. Purging fear = extremely scary. Purging doubt = thinking all these shamans are out of their minds and this is some kind of cult. Purging ego = getting triggered by the guy with the bigger ego during the day of the ceremony. Purging overactive mind chatter = exhausting thought spirals. Physical purges (vomit, diarrhea, gas, hot/cold temperatures, yawning, sweating, vibrating/shaking, crying, abnormal breathing, fidgeting) are all catalysts that the dark energy attaches to (either the physical liquid, gas or breath) to get out. It is the much more efficient than energy work alone (though most people feel extreme energies as well). Not only do challenging purges move out darkness fast, they train the body and mind to be able to endure the physical world …’

Methodology for ‘Hypno-purging’ (for want of a better name)

This process is an advanced therapeutic technique that takes a lot of commitment from the client and a lot of confidence from the therapist in order to see it through. Awareness of disgust can arise spontaneously in the course of a session or could be a client’s presenting problem.

Go hunting together

Notice what your client is avoiding. What do they NOT talk about, what do they NOT do, what do they do their best NOT to be. You’ll need to be eagle eyed as the client will be a master of staying away from this stuff.

A good thing to watch out for is micro expressions. Notice when, for a split second, your client’s face turns into a disgusted grimace when they are talking. For that moment they accessed the disgusting thing … but it was so quick they probably didn’t even notice. Stop them immediately and direct them back to what they were saying, where they were looking, any body language. Slow everything down and have them notice if they can sense what it was that you noticed.

Become aware of the avoidance

If you think you have noticed what they are avoiding before they do go ahead and let them know. Anything less is beating about the bush and colluding with them that this (whatever it is) cannot be faced head on. Tell them what you are noticing and ask them if they are avoiding something. For example: ‘A moment ago I was asking you about sex and now you are talking about relationships again. Are you avoiding talking about sex?’ If they get defensive at this point then that is brilliant information that there is something here that needs defending. Remember – it is the parasitic energy that is defending itself, not the client so don’t get distracted by it.

At this stage you can give your client a brief overview of the benefits of the natural process of purging sadness by crying (which they will understand), anger by shouting (which they will understand) and disgust by puking (which they will now understand). Check out if there are any medical reasons for not going down this route. Then give them a bucket. That will show them that you are serious and probably start to get them a bit apprehensive. This is good. It shows that they are taking this seriously and that the toxic energy inside is getting nervous.

Build motivation

Re-cap on the negative effect that this avoidance has on their lives. They need to re-member (get back into the body) how important this is to them. Otherwise why would they actually face what they have been avoiding? A simple question like ‘And while you are avoiding (blah), what effect is that having on your life?’ Accept no bullshit. Make them spell it out. Make them feel the pain of their avoidance.

Confront the parasite

Coach your client to confront the avoided thing. Develop any spontaneously occurring metaphors. ‘Where is it?’, ‘What’s it like over there?’, ‘How many of them are there?’, ‘What are they doing?’, that kind of thing. As more of their awareness is directed towards what they have been avoiding they will almost certainly start feeling their internal response to it. In the case of disgust they will probably start to feel sensations in the stomach, chest or throat. Again, build awareness of these feelings with questions like ‘And now what are you noticing?’, ‘And whereabouts in your stomach is that?’, ‘And what’s that like?’, ‘And how much black sludge is there?’, and, of course, ‘What does it smell like?’  Remember: you are not making them feel sick, you are revealing what is already there.

Facilitate the purge by confronting and removing all barriers that are preventing the body from doing what it wants to do. If the client is afraid of loosing control and being sick then get them to feel that fear deeply. Coach them to choose to accept the fear and surrender to their body. As the sensations increase get the client to notice any ways that they are trying to control them or avoid them and to STOP. And really notice the feelings and allow them to do whatever they want to do. If they cough then reinforce it with a ‘Good, let it happen.’ Similarly if they wretch or puke. Let them know everything is fine and it will pass. The only way out is through.

Aftercare

After the purge has happened your client will probably come back to themselves (literally … squatter out, owner in) quite quickly. They may feel somewhat battered but will likely feel cleansed and well. They will probably look much more alive and glowing. This is the perfect time to get them to notice what is different now. Invite them to think about things that used to bother them. Invite them to imagine situations that would have caused them problems (‘future pacing’ in NLP speak).

Spiral reading

I was musing today on the idea that the reason that some ‘dyslexics’ have trouble with distinguishing letters like ‘b’ and ‘d’ is that they are conceiving of them as three dimensional symbols … and that ‘b’ and ‘d’ are actually the same letter viewed from different sides.  (From the side it would look something like an ‘I’ and from top or bottom they would look like a ‘-‘.  I’m not sure if anyone ever confuses b and d with I and -.)

Then I got to thinking about how, when we write, we only write in a single direction – from left to right – and that the reader is forced to flick their attention from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.  I’m very curious about discontinuities like this and hypothesise that a steady tracking of text – especially if it balances right to left as well as left to right – would result in some kind of smoother comprehension.

My experiment looks like this: