The Loss of Self as a Core Issue
From the front page:
This site is based on a core understanding, that has had profound implications.
That understaning is that, here in the dominant culture of the US, we have lost a core part of our connection to the depths of who we each really are. And that the repercussions of that separation are much more intense than most of us realize.
Also that this state of separation is so embedded within our culture, that many of us do not truly even know what it is that we have lost.
The culture itself deeply obfuscates this loss in a million different ways, by taking what has been lost and externalizing it. So the deeper need that we carry here, becomes channeled toward attaining something outside of oneself.…
This is in part, why we have become such an addictive society.
In those addictions, we are not just self medicating ourselves. We are also trying to get needs met that are lost in this separation, without actually even knowing – at least on a deeper level, what that need is.
This of course plays out materially, in terms of the consumerism and greed of the world – for money, for things, for sex, for drugs, for power and on and on. I could write volumes about that but for the most part, I assume that those of you reading this, are likely aware of that.
What is more critical to me, is that it also plays out in a lot of other ways even within alternative culture.
It often turns spiritual practices for example, into a kind of spiritual idealism. It is not that many practices don’t help people to find themselves.
It is just that the practices often don’t see the depth and the complexity of this issue and end up setting up a different kind of illusion that becomes embedded within the practice itself. An idealized endpoint to achieve, instead of a deeper acknowledgement of what has been lost and a corresponding depth of understanding of what it means to then truly know love or grace side by side with that loss.
In my own experience, I got hooked into this dynamic by a pair of teachers that “had the answer”. The story was always that one just had to devote oneself a little bit more.
And then always just a little more after that.
There is nothing wrong in itself with devotion or the teaching of devotion.
But without a deeper understanding of what devotion means in the context of this separation from self, it is easy even for spiritual practices to become another form of seeking for something external – even if we call the intention of that seeking, inner work.
In my own experience, and I also often see this in others still, this dynamic can easily become abusive.
It happens in spiritual communities and you see it too in political organizing work and many other places where people are trying to “do good”. All too often the abusiveness of the world we are trying to change and heal from, gets recreated in the name of doing good, in whatever form that might take.
The result is burnout, cynicism and a re-traumatizing of the individual who often gets blamed in the process for not being devoted enough to whatever the cause may be.
I say that without judgment even of my own teacher who fell into that trap.
I say it because I hope it helps others who might feel crazy in their situations, to know that they are not crazy.
I say it because a deeper understanding of the intensity of the separation from self, within our culture and within each of us, opens a possibility for all of us to approach this in a different way. It makes space for us to be fierce in our passion and devotion without so much judgment of ourselves or for that matter of others.
It makes space to actually break out of the self abusiveness of this cycle, of trying to do better but never ever being able to do enough.
The simple truth is that this separation from the heart and soul of who we are, has become so deep and prolific within our culture, that it is a kind of trauma in and of itself.
Knowing that makes space for a radically different perspective.
For in trauma we do not have the kind of choice that we might think that we have. And realizing that allows for a kind of tenderness for the depth of the dilemma we are in.
Just to be clear, I don’t say that to advocate for any kind of negative form of victim culture. Facing trauma and the culture of trauma that we live in, makes space for a healthy kind of responsibility, without the inherent shame that comes from trying to overcome something, that we are not even fully conscious of.
Having an understanding of the dynamics of trauma, gives us an understanding, that what we think has been lost, is not actually lost.
It is only lost to our own consciousness of it.
And there is a power in that knowing, that anchors the ultimate solution to our own dilemma within ourselves, within each of us.
That doesn’t mean that we will not need support in the process of coming fully back into embodied consciousness. But it does mean that this support needs to be geared toward your own personal need and not the belief of any teacher or external authority.
It is a perspective that respects the complexity of the human psyche.
Specifically in regards to our upbringing within trauma culture, without making the process so complicated that we forget, that it is our own brilliance that we are trying to remember.
The challenge becomes, not so much how to find what was lost but instead to look at what made us separate from ourselves in the first place.
Particularly in this case, how do we come back into embodied consciousness, when an inherent part of that process includes facing into the damaging effects of that culture. Effects that we have repressed for very real reasons of day to day survival.
That is after all, the point of a trauma response – to survive.
To separate from the experience of the pain and/or fear associated with the incident triggering the trauma, so that we can marshall our resources to do the thing we need to do, in order to find safety.
The dilemma is, that the energy of trauma and abuse has become so embedded in our culture, that we have forgotten the last part of the trauma cycle, which is to find space where it is safe to heal.
Instead our society has created a kind of survival reality in regards to the trauma – as if the state of dissociation is the only reality…
It is time to break out of that dilemma.
Time to make space within each of us to do this, and for us as a culture to do this.
Despite all of our limitations, we can access what we know of love and grace, to create the space to heal, to grow and to change both ourselves and the world.
We can actually learn to let the trauma, move to the next part of its cycle.
In some way, trauma actually “wants” to move.
That wanting and that knowing lives on within our bodies, which still for better or worse remember what has been forgotten and what was destroyed.
The inquisition and the “burning times” of Europe, amongst many other factors, obliterated much of what was left of the indigenous healing knowledge of that continent. What was known of how to complete this cycle of healing was largely lost to conscious memory with this destruction
As a result, what came to rule this continent, instead, was a culture steeped in this lineage of trauma survival and abuse.
Which it then inflicted on the indigenous people of this land – and still does
Then proceeded to create an economy which was built in huge part on slavery. Abuse that continues to this day with the mass incarceration of an astounding 945,000 African Americans.
The Trump presidency, the climate catastrophe that is unfolding right now, the abuse that triggered the #metoo and the Black Lives Matter movements, are all the result of this lineage that lives on to this day.
This administration is just a particularly gross expression of a problem whose roots run much deeper than most people admit.
One can only hope that the open upwelling of racism, sexism, transphobia and general abusiveness embraced by this administration and its supporters, is some kind of last gasp of a culture that is dying.
Although I would not count on it.
Either way, we each have a choice to begin to break our own part in this lineage. To begin to learn to come back into an embodied consciousness ourselves.
A choice to break this legacy, that wreaks havoc for so many people individually and which has reached a point of literally destroying the climate conditions that support all of humanity and many of the other beings that we share this home with.
And regardless of what we can do on a broader level, I for myself want to come home.
I want to be in this dance of remembering. Of coming back into my body. Of doing what I have within me to be part of creating a culture of embodiment.
I want love and grace to not just be an ideal but the daily music that I actually walk with, as much as I can, along with the grief for all that was lost and is not recoverable. I want to be in this dance with a tenderness for how much I do not know how to dance.
I want to reach out and touch and love, and be touched and be loved with the knowing of how little I fully understand how to do these things, despite how much they are a natural part of who we are.
I want to know joy, as if it is not some completely foreign language but more in the way that a child, that has not been so damaged by this culture, beams with joy as if it is just another part of their day, along with crying, eating and pooping.
It is important to me, to not be alone in this process. Isolation is in in fact, a symptom of the trauma and the alienation that this culture inculcates in so many.
In the bigger context, my own personal journey to embodied consciousness has been very much anchored in an embodied dreamwork practice that evolved out of an amazing community of dreamers based in my home state of Vermont.
This site is very much rooted in what I have learned from that practice.
You can learn more about that if you want, at Students of the Dream which is the site that I share with my partner Sue and which hosts our writings etc, about the dream, and info about our dream school.
I will also include some of that info here on this site but my intention here is more about the broader issue of growing a movement toward a culture of embodied consciousness.
My own experience is that this consciousness can be accessed in a lot of different ways.
What is important to me, is not the specific way we access that consciousness but that we each find which way works for us to meet our own need, to reclaim that part of who we are.
What is important to me is that we as a society grow the movement that is standing against trauma culture and that we do that in a way that makes space for a culture of consent, of healing and of love and passion to grow out of the ashes of that culture.
With love and respect,
Sunday January 14th, 2018
From the occupied land of the Abenaki Nation, also known as Vermont