What do you imagine as the reason movies these days are so intense, music so loud, lyrics so crude, news so sensational, distractions so common? These are the questions we grapple with in the response-ability to remove the roots of violence in our world.
I wonder why cruelty today passes for pornography? Many were literally unable to withstand reading Christopher Hedges’ bare knuckle details (in his book “The End of Illusion”) of just how sadistic and anti-feminine modern porn really is. Yet disturbingly, that’s what is selling to the industry’s significantly teenage audience.
Arno Gruen said, “If people base their identity on identifying with authority, freedom causes anxiety. They must then conceal the victim in themselves by resorting to violence against others.”
What if having been bullied, abused and/or neglected by authorities as children in even the “best” of homes, we survived the only way that made sense – by turning off our feelings, locking up our hearts, putting on a “whatever” mask and like living dead, walk through our lives as zombies, barely able to feel even the most intense sensations?
“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.” – Bessel A. van der Kolk.
Is this what’s passing for The American Dream?
- Living overwhelmed by stress and distraction.
- Living without receiving enough love and connection.
- Living alienated from nature.
- Living alienated from one another.
- Living alienated from our work.
- Living alienated from ourselves.
- Living ruled by power and privilege rather than truth and justice.
Ironically, aloneness is at the heart of the current cultural craving for connection – the hyperactivity and constant digital downloads – any possible diversion from facing actual solitude which feels like a kind of suffering only actual death can end. Hedges describes the porn industry as just one of our cultural illusions that make up a modern death complex, which includes the epidemic of suicides, senseless violence, marauding multi-national corporations and the high-volume stimuli trying to penetrate our shields.
“Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.” – Bessel A. van der Kolk.
There’s little chance for release when our culture resorts to war analogies to describe its approach to every problem, so we at the PhysioEmoDynamics Institute choose a different path. We choose to face what is.
I’ve produced a Webinar that introduces new tools and techniques to access the body’s ageless, natural wisdom to free us from traumas and pains.
You can sign up to see it here. There is no cost.
Nietzsche puts it this way, “The demon that you can swallow gives you its power, and the greater life’s pain, the greater life’s reply.”
So, how to swallow this painful culture of violence and alienation and have it produce an even greater amount of sensitivity and deep connection?
Blaise Pascal: “All of humanity’s problems stem from a person’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
So, what if instead of attacking the problem we begin by meditating on it, sitting quietly with it, alone, for a long time? After all, violence is, it is powerful and it is deeply entrenched. Let’s sit quietly with that, own that and be with the fact of that.
That’s the introspection and deep soul work my wife and I do on our many travels. This summer Olga and I are in the south of France, observing the ways of the world, taking long walks in the woods, letting in the abundance and emotions of our surroundings. Waiting for replies ready to emerge…
“On the journey of the warrior-bodhisatvva, the path goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward turbulence and doubt whenever we can. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear.” – Pema Chodron.
As we sit and profoundly relax we slowly release from our body:
All the violence that has passed.
All the violence that may come.
All the violence that is happening now.
All attempts to figure anything out about the violence.
All efforts to make anything happen about the violence.
Instead, we relax, right now, and rest into something deeper than we can even understand.
On the way down we discover right underneath the angry urge to wage war on a problem is the ego desire to know the solution and rush to apply it to ease our discomfort.
Richard Feynman said, “I feel a responsibility as a scientist who knows the great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, and the progress made possible by such a philosophy, progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought….to proclaim the value of this freedom and to teach that doubt is not to be feared, but that it is to be welcomed as the possibility of a new potential for human beings. If you know that you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation. I want to demand this freedom for future generations.”
Let’s admit something about dealing with violence. If we really knew what to do we’d have done it long ago. Let’s give ourselves room to admit our ignorance and keep dropping down, accepting possibility and mystery…
Long before the spoken word or civilization developed, the reptilian brain’s survival instincts maintained our essential core functioning. The way we live today, constantly rushing, competing and achieving, has us in a constant “fight or flight”state and unable to access that core instinct.
“The body, as opposed to the ego, desires pleasure, not power. Bodily pleasure is the source from which all our good feelings and good thinking stems. If the bodily pleasure of an individual is destroyed, he becomes an angry, frustrated, and hateful person. His thinking becomes distorted, and his creative potential is lost. He develops self-destructive attitudes.”―Alexander Lowen.
Let’s wait – long enough, drop deep enough, to access those source feelings and thinking!
Let’s do our work until we:
- CAN swallow our demonic history of violence
- CAN admit our culture is deeply traumatized
- CAN see we have shut down emotionally to survive
- CAN know the response to violence comes only as we
- CAN feel safe again.
When we have released the protections, reopened our hearts, healed the wounds and created safe space for our souls to venture out into the light again, only then will we be able to actually personally feel the violence and allow in the experience in a way we become empowered toward action that heals.
In the Talmud it says “The highest form of wisdom is kindness”.
“A great transformation occurs when we begin to cultivate an attitude of unwavering kindness. Kindness towards even the most inconvenient parts of our selves.
It is only through the eyes of kindness that we are able to see truly, that we are able to recognize the preciousness of all shades of life and cultivate real love for self and others. By choosing kindness, we honor the most direct, and highest form of wisdom: the wisdom of the heart.
Because the heart accepts everything as it is. It knows no judgment, demands no improvement — it holds everything dear. When we give in to this radical acceptance, life recovers its innate dignity.
Release the pressure of demanding that things change, and suddenly everything is set free to move naturally in the direction of wholeness.
But true kindness is not for the faint of heart. It is a spiritual rebellion that always begins with the Self.
Turn over those tables of self-cruelty. Silence the merchants of self-improvement. Take all icons of gods and men off the walls and hang a mirror. Whatever idol of a better you that you have placed on your altar, let it break now. Let yourself come into your own Holy of Holies exactly as you are. Fall into your own arms and never let go.
Incredibly, it is only when we fully enter our own hearts and give our kindness to ourselves that it can naturally begin to flow over to all others.
When you are feeling lost, overwhelmed, angry or frustrated, whether it is shame, blame, guilt or fear that are running havoc, simply acknowledge your experience, drop the self-judgment, and no matter your species of pain, be kind.” – Jim Rogers.
Having achieved kindness we graduate to being ready to work with others, or as Woody Allen put it: “Students achieving Oneness will move on to Twoness.”
So, everywhere we go as non-violence what should we know?
Noam Chomsky said, “The general population doesn’t even know what’s happening, and it does’t even know that it doesn’t know.”
“Indeed, they are so dumbed down by political propaganda and anesthetized by advertisements spewed out by a product-first person-second consumerist machine that they can’t even think straight, let alone live healthy lifestyles. Worst of all, they don’t realize that only they have the power to transform themselves into heroes. One way of transforming ourselves from victims into heroes is to cultivate a soul powerful enough to empower the ego. This is a top-down approach to empowerment. It requires daily practice, consummate discipline, self-affirmations”. – Gary Z McGee.
In other words we must do the work necessary to be non-violent ourselves, because:
“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people the right to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson.
“The more you empower people, the more empowered you become. It creates a positive feedback loop, an evolutionary feedback loop that cannot be stopped.” – David DeGraw.
And the final awareness we offer in our joyous practice here at the PhysioEmoDynamics Institute is to release certainty and any desire for completion because…
“…what one needs in this universe is not certainty but the courage and nerve of the gambler; not fixed conviction but adaptability; not firm ground whereupon to stand but skill in swimming.” – Alan Watts.
I am, Jan Hutchins, an executive coach with The PhysioEmoDynamics Institute. Along with my wife Olga Kostrova, we train entrepreneurs, executives and you in these healing, empowering practices.
For free 1 on 1 coaching with me to end suffering in your life and the lives of others, click here to register.
Learn the basics about healing yourself and others here: PAIN & STRESS MANAGEMENT WEBINAR: How to Use Pleasure to End Pain.