Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Animal Connection

If you want to see something lovely, and sad, with a dose of synchronicity thrown in, go see Vicki.  If only more people revered animals in this way, there wouldn't be any in the shelter to start off with.

Zoe dog - her eyes remind me of Lester

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Whoever. Whatever

On my town’s main street are three public toilets. They’re set back about 2.5 metres from the footpath, with a large square piece of concrete with sculptural taps on top providing a vague buffer between the sounds of you urinating and the good people of Belgrave going about their business. Whenever I use these toilets I always feel like I’m weeing on the street.

See? They’re a bit odd, don’t you reckon? To the left of them, you’ve got the Petal and Pot, a lovely-smelling cafe which also sells flowers. To the right you’ve got a Sushi Express that makes a nice don buri. In the middle you’ve got a faint waft of wee.

But I was busting this day, so I used them. As I tinkled my ablutions I noticed some graffiti on the otherwise clean door of the stall.

It said, What you are seeking after is seeking after you — Rumi.


But then, underneath, someone had struck through the What and written Who and the Rumi and written God.

I pondered this, then and in the days following my public urination. I was a little peeved. Not so much because the concept of god infuriates me (it doesn’t — as long as they’re the good version worthy of god status) but because this vandalising of someone’s graffiti is ultimately pedantic and also a little … well, violent. Now, I’m the Princess-and-the-Pea-pre-menopausal version of hypersensitive, so I don’t know if it would seem violent to others. But to me, it felt like right there in front of me was the reason for wars the world over. It felt like the whatever Rumi was pointing to — those experiences of exquisite flow, when it’s like the world speaks back to us, those events of synchronicity that make us stop and wonder how alive this universe actually is and indeed whether someone Other than ourselves is speaking back to us — had been with a few slashes squashed down into tediousness, into someone’s dogma, their own concept of a being who, if they exist, is not able to be seen or proven, the accounts of who vary somewhat the world over.

A perfectly lovely Rumi quote, which had wafted a slight breeze of freedom through a public dunny stall, had been killed, right there on the wall, in the same way a joke loses humour once you deconstruct it, or a butterfly its life once you impale it with a spike.

I felt like Rumi had sniffed the quantum field, where we are all included, and then someone with an urge to poo and a texta came along and turned it into the dull pulpit of a dry and dusty minister for whom God is not so much an experience as a set of dogmas to line up like toy soldiers in the correct order and only then will the far door open and the light shine in.

That’s what I felt — but really, how would I know what that second person’s conceptions were? To presume that just because they were annoyingly zealous with an irritating habit of correcting perceived wrongs that they therefore must have a really crappy, fundamentalist view of a god’s composition is presumptive. They could have quite as easily been driven by a beautiful urge to try (and fail) to point more clearly towards what they experienced as some sort of transformation. Trying to resonate how, when they had asked whether life has any point to it there came, days or decades later, an out-of-the-blue surprise answer somehow, like music set to starlight. Maybe their experience was incredibly intimate, a pervasive feeling of recognition — that they were looking at a Someone who was looking back at them. That it was somehow personal.

I could understand then that to have this someone referred to as a “what” could be insulting, could cheapen it somehow. It would be like being in love and someone saying that your lover is no different to any other person. Even though you know on the mundane level they’re right, you are not living in the mundane. Your lover is the only one for you, the only one you are in love with and ever want to be in love with, ever again. The exclusivity that comes with being in love would make you want to bop that person on the nose or pity them their Muggleness. It would be like saying to someone who flies in wonderment because the one they love also loves them back that what they are feeling is just a bunch of biology, a set of chemical reactions that occur every day and that you would do just as well being in love with that person over there. You would surmise from that statement that if the speaker had ever been in love, that they had surely forgotten the experience by now.

Their words would be as intrusive as, say, crossing out someone’s entirely fine Rumi quote to impose your particular worldview. It would be like saying, when someone has been dumped, that there are plenty more fish in the sea. I don’t have any quibbles with people framing the experience of that immeasurable space as God. For all we know, She could well be. Or perhaps what so many of us experience so profoundly is something less … personal ~ the quantum field, the morphic field, the cosmic consciousness, the Us, the Whatever.

Whatever or Whoever it is, it’s mysterious and it’s beautiful. Rumi was onto that. It’s why he resonates. It’s why you never need to mess with someone else’s words which are trying to pin down the unpinnable, that which can only be experienced. To do so is to piss into the wind.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Is Pyroluria Trauma?

Last year I saw a psychotherapist.  It was very cool because it wasn't just simply sitting in front of someone talking, talking, talking.  It involved also using my body.  Sometimes I would draw what I was experiencing in my body and then we would use different techniques like emotional freedom technique (EFT) and eye movement integration, etc, as part of working through them and understanding them.  It was a little strange and discomfiting, but it also kinda rocked because it fit into paradigms I am entirely comfortable with (namely, that we go way deeper than we are consciously aware of).

Once, near the beginning of our sessions, I wrote down on index cards the different effects I could expect in my life once I had successfully resolved the troubling, traumatic, long-standing and deep-seated situation I was seeing her about.  When I had written something on each card and drawn an accompanying representational picture, I then put them down on the ground to form a path, and walked through the middle of that path.  It was a literalisation of the process we were undertaking.  It felt good.  It felt stupid.

I first had experience of therapy that incorporated something greater than just talk when I began doing art therapy about six years ago.  That was such a profoundly awesome experience for me.  To be surprised by something you make, or a picture you draw or paint, to have it reveal things to you about you, slowly and meaningfully, so that you can see something you couldn't before, as if you have externalised something of yourself that is now giving itself back to you ~ it's hard work and it's awesome.  I have forever been ruined for straight talk therapy that doesn't involve using your body and/or your creativity.

If you're overly logical and a little weak on imagination, then maybe doing stuff like this mightn't work.  It requires laying down of the security that a logical way of approaching life offers and looking through a rather different lens.  It's an entirely different kind of practice; it's subjective.  It's also real, powerful, potentially massively meaning-making, something which can garner great internal change - surprising yourself about yourself and healing things that are broken.  Those spaces have always been dangerous thresholds to cross.  They continue to be so.

Doing this kind of stuff, though challenging, is powerful if it's your bag.  I suppose some of the techniques we used would be classed as neurolinguistic programming.  That is a compartment with a big pseudoscience label stuck on its outside.  Now, just because it's a cultural belief that anything pseudoscience is therefore false and wrong and stupid doesn't mean that's not a simplistic distinction.  Sure, some of what's called pseudoscience is peddled by shysters and snake oil salespeople, and we do not wish to be taken advantage of.  However, it is simply not possible for everything to be effectively funnelled into a scientific tube, into something externally measurable and quantifiable.  If something sits outside science as pseudoscience, then what that means is determined by what it is.  It can be bunk ... or not.  It depends.

One week I talked to my psychotherapist about pyroluria.  It was the latest thing I was working on and I was hopeful that it would help me with symptoms I was experiencing, namely massive fatigue and anxiety.  The next week, she came back and said that she'd read up on it a bit, and that while she did not wish to minimise in any way my diagnosis, that those symptoms sounded very much to her just like trauma.

I recognised the resistance in myself as soon as she said it.  Straightaway, it felt like she was dissing a new, possibly large, jigsaw puzzle piece that would help further explain what was wrong with my body.  The same body that had been causing me grief for the previous 15 years.  In 1999 I contracted glandular fever, and since then things have never been the same for me.  Chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal fatigue, all wrapped up a bundle that has caused at best medium and at times severe limitations.  To have felt that I had come upon something that might give a physical explanation, and then to have someone suggest that it was maybe, like, emotional ~ no, I didn't want that.  I wanted it to be entirely physical, because that way it was simpler and cleaner.  If pyroluria turned out to be the physical manifestation of trauma, where would that leave me?

It would leave me feeling weak.  There's the rub, and here's the split:  a purely physical explanation would get me off the hook.  It would be mechanical.  Or it would somehow be my ancestors' fault.  It wouldn't be mine.  Whereas if pyroluria was trauma, then somehow it would automatically all be my fault.

Funny, isn't it, how we make those distinctions.

In practice, the body is not a dead piece of machinery with a big long stick coming out of it with a mind or a brain attached.  It is all one thing, and it is a joy to experience that.  And you can't understand it from a study (though we do know there is a type of brain function that occurs in the gut, and also in the heart).  You have to experience it yourself.  So is pyroluria trauma?  Maybe.  Maybe what we see with pyroluria is the long-term effects of trauma on a body, on the blood, ending up with a greater need for B6 and zinc, amongst other things.  Maybe we see the spiritual, emotional and mental effects playing out on the physical plane, like wind on water.

There is often just as much power in the immeasurable relationship between the things as in the things themselves.  It does seem as a culture we are finding it easier to recognise the spaces between things and how everything is affected by everything else in ways that are not always easy to forecast (especially in terms of globalisation and climate change). I tend to think that though Descartes' thoughts that translated out into the mind-body split still run like water down through the middle of our culture, causing division only in our perception, that we are beginning to close that particular gap.  In one way you could say that that is the defining argument of the age, one that surely must be felt in the area of science most keenly and confusingly.

About Me

I'm Sue. I'm a writer and a thinker, and I veer from whining to exulting about a mishmash of topics on this blog ~ from creativity to the future to spirituality to health issues. I have had chronic fatigue syndrome/pyroluria for the past 14 years so there's a bit of whining.

I also venture into the territory of pondering God on here, though I have never known what that/she is, and I know now even less than I did before. I'm even cool with there being no god at all. I find fundamentalists in whatever part of life to be ultra tiresome. I once would have called myself a Christian but I have never held to any kind of organised religion. I think religion is really ultimately about story.

But then, I tend to think everything is about story.

I hold the belief that one day scientists and mystics will meet in the centre of the room and kiss each other, and discover they have been exploring the same thing all along.

Please feel free to drop me a line at susieq777@dodo.com.au or share your thoughts in the comments.

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