Our nervous system responses affect every system in our body; cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular, digestive, endocrine, immune/lymphatic, muscular skeletal.
Bringing awareness to the state of our nervous system is an effective tool, knowing when we are in a hyper-aroused state and when a need for down regulation and a para-sympathetic state is required equips us to take care of ourselves and mindfully adjust our reactivity.
We can learn to self regulate through an awareness of how we are operating with the objects around us, with the built environment. This awareness can be applied inter-objectively and inter-subjectively, in a meeting, walking along the street, on the phone, in the car, interacting directly with others; in pretty much any situation we can bring moment to moment awareness to how we interact, how we operate and the affect this is having on our bodies, our breathing, our heart rate, our ease or lack of ease. We will see that for much of the time we are in hyper-aroused nervous system states, we are under stress, on automatic, thinking about the future and dealing with the present unconsciously – our nervous systems are on active alert. We are not present to our immediate experience.
This constant firing leads to adrenal burnout and immune deficiencies, the body can hike into these modes temporarily but needs to know when to drop back into restoration for homeostasis and balance to occur. In rest and restore new positive baselines, synapses and pathways are created. The body needs to rest in order to restore in all of it’s complex systems, we are our body, the more we engage with how we respond to stress the more we can begin to master and affect self regulation. When the nervous system spikes into sympathetic arousal, adrenalin and other hormones are released into the system, very useful when we are in danger but very damaging if this state is constantly charged and these chemicals are in habitual release.
By widening our perception with the goal of gaining a more overall awareness, moment-to-moment we begin to develop the ability to choose to consciously access our para-sympathetic state. Applying awareness to what is happening it is possible for us to adjust our behavior, it is possible for us to adjust our physical relationship to the task in hand. By doing this we are slowing down enough to feel what is happening, slowing and deepening our breathing we are consciously in synch with our physicality. We take in the totality of the situation; we are literally more present to life as it unfolds.
Learning to utilize the intelligence of the nervous system from within, we are bringing the whole of our experience, mind and body into present time awareness, into our own consciousness. Through this we are empowered fully into who we are. We are equipped with the ability to slow down our actual experience enough to affect positive change states in our own nervous system responses; enabling awareness of what is actually occurring within, in response to our outer environment.
The Satipatthana Sutta, the discourse on the foundations of mindfulness, is generally regarded as the buddhist text with the fullest instructions on the system of meditation technique unique to the Buddha himself.
The practice of Satipatthana meditation centres on the methodical cultivation of one simple mental faculty readily available to all of us at any moment.
This is the faculty of mindfulness, the capacity for attending to the content of our experience as it becomes manifest in the immediate present.
Sati = mindfulness. The minute by minute, present moment awareness.
The goal of therapy is transformation, a client seeks therapy as a motivated and mobilised move toward optimal health.
Through listening, through heart, through compassion. Through receiving, through inter-personal presence. Through the authenticity that builds trust and safety, the relationship itself orients to the whole person, this depth of awareness has the capacity to receive the client at depth and open the client toward their own inherent wholeness, to touch their core state and know their brilliant sanity.
There is, over time, a move from informaton and parts of a whole, to integration and fluidity, toward peace and ease. A move from intellect to embodiment. The therapist listens artfully through all their sensory tools, hearing, seeing, feeling vicerally, resonating, responding, they are being affected through piercing presence and attuned awareness.
Therapy is more art, than science, it is creative. A collaborative process, drawing, painting, sketching, color strands, light, dark; through these strokes available and hidden tools emerge en-mass in the forefront, to be understood, explored and enquired into. The client has the courage to enquire, to contemplate, to move through, to wade through, to breeze through, to pain through.
A process in motion forming and ceasing from one landscape to another. It is dynamic and colorful, it is an art of the senses all happening in the co-created field of the therapy room.
Brilliant Sanity, it means that who we most fundamentally are. It is our inherent nature; it is what we are no matter what we might be feeling in any particular moment. Everyone is or has brilliant sanity at their core at all times.
Brilliant sanity describes our nature, who we most basically are. We are not always in touch with it, but it is always there and available to us, it steadily and absolutely underpins our very being. It is open, clear and spacious. We know when we feel it within, we have glimpses of it in our daily life but may bounce to and fro, in and out, unable to sustain a constant knowing to it’s source.
Core process psychotherapy, a form of contemplative therapy; the original mindfulness based psychotherapy (established over 30 years ago), works with this knowing at the core of it’s approach to the clients suffering. That no matter what, at depth, we are intrinsically well. And although this wellbeing may be obscured, it may be recovered through compassionate enquiry and depth therapeutic skills.
We work with a depth understanding of what helps and what hinders healing, insight and transformation.
What happens to the body when facilitated to rest into deep stillness?
It is invited and given the opportunity to re-connect to it’s underlying intrinsic health.
The behaviour of cells, tissues and fluids that make up the body systems are enabled to drop below the mode of more superficial workings, that of fighting infection, maintaining homeostasis, centering around strain patterns and what potentially begins, is a deeper conversation.
In this deep stillness a spaciousness opens and the possibility for something other than the cyclic motion is possible.
From the stillness, we discover the body is not subject only to habitual conditions but seeks another way to re-connect to a much wider radiance, a pool of inherent health beyond pathology.
What opens up in the pure moment of the present moment, over and over and over is un-affected, un-adulterated potential.
The pure potential that is neither clouded by future fantasy, or colored by the recent or distant past, is ever available. This pure potential is constantly underpinning our distracted mind-state. In most of our experience we are reacting to the world around us automatically and in this automation we are plagued by a convergence of both our past and our future. We rarely reside purely in a moment and experience this moment’s pure potential, simply engaging with how it is.
The beauty of clear, receptive experience is that it offers; clarity and space, an opening into perceptive potential. Understood and experienced in this way each moment is new and we are afresh in every moment, we have the potential to continually become and not be subject to the condition of who we have been and who we project ourselves to be.
We then, are not static but utterly potent and capable of renewal in each and every moment. There is pure, clear, alive, fresh and exciting potential within this creative engagement, this is mindfulness, a slowing down and a being aware of and responding to, what is actually arising in the here and now. This is discernment, choosing to experience the present moment in pure piercing awareness. This is momentary freedom from conditionality. This is actuality.
Can forgive the past
It starts singing.
When the violin can stop worrying
About the future
You will become
Such a drunk laughing nuisance
Will then lean down
And start combing you into
When the violin can forgive
Every wound caused by
The heart starts
Poem From ‘The Gift’, By Hafiz
The absolute truth cannot be realized within the domain of the ordinary mind. And the path beyond the ordinary mind, all the great wisdom traditions have told us, is through the heart.
May 10th, ‘Glimpse after Glimpse’ extracts from the Tibetan book of Living and Dying