Useful thoughts from Jason. We think this is an issue for all of us, not only those self-defining as men. We all contain a balance of energies, and we participate in cultures which devalue or under-value body awareness, ‘beingness’ and tenderness, whilst exalting force, performance and accomplishment. A significant…perhaps the single most important, in the writer’s view…strand in therapy is about coming back to the body in our response to fear or distress. Such a simple, powerful, under-valued practice.
Here are the words, for those of you who have issues reading Facebook links.
‘The problem that many men in our culture have is this: we substitute force for presence and body awareness. At the exact moment where what we most need is body awareness, tenderness, presence and ‘beingness’ we have been taught and habituated to use an excess of force. When we do this the results of our action are always awry in some way; we may use too much physical force and end up injuring ourselves or others or we may end up forcefully overthinking a situation and getting nowhere.
It is not that the use of force is wrong or mistaken, but that we have become habituated to using too much force and to substitute force for body awareness. Perhaps we should take the advice of that ancient Tai Chi master who said: ‘to deflect the momentum of a thousand pounds you need only a trigger force of four ounces.’ We may need to use as little effort as possible for the task in hand.
The result of continued habitual substitution of force for embodiment is that we tend to identify only with our performance and accomplishments instead of with the ground of our being and our vital life. When we identify only with our performance and accomplishments we are not truly alive, instead we live in a kind of disembodied half life, where we perceive that we have to continuously struggle to update our skills in order to survive or brandish our accomplishments in order to feel valued.
When there is a threat, when there is stress, the first thing that a man needs to do is to remember his body and senses. Only from a place of presence is it really possible to become competent at anything. Only when we are in touch with our body awareness it is possible to be spontaneously and compassionately responsive to a situation. Only from a place of beingness is it possible to individuate, to feel our joy and vital aliveness and to be of service to our community.’
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling in Exeter since 1994