Rachel Naomi Remen on Silence

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.” 

Rachel Naomi Remen

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

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Thomas Merton on the serene disciple

When in the soul of the serene disciple
With no more Fathers to imitate
Poverty is a success,
It is a small thing to say the roof is gone:
He has not even a house.

Stars, as well as friends,
Are angry with the noble ruin.
Saints depart in several directions.

Be still:
There is no longer any need of comment.
It was a lucky wind
That blew away his halo with his cares,
A lucky sea that drowned his reputation.

Here you will find
Neither a proverb nor a memorandum.
There are no ways,
No methods to admire
Where poverty is no achievement.
His God lives in his emptiness like an affliction.

What choice remains?
Well, to be ordinary is not a choice:
It is the usual freedom
Of men without visions.

Thomas Merton

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

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Celtic Blessing (on working) – John O’Donohue

‘May the light of your soul guide you. 
May the light of your soul bless the work that you do 
with the secret love and warmth of your heart. 
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul. 
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light 
and renewal to those who work with you 
and to those who see and receive your work. 
May your work never weary you. 
May it release within you wellsprings of 
refreshment, inspiration and excitement. 
May you be present in what you do. 
May you never become lost in bland absences. 
May the day never burden. 
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your 
new day with dreams, possibilities and promises. 
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled. 
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected. 
May your soul calm, console and renew you.

John O’Donohue’

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

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The Touch of Madness – David Dobbs

https://psmag.com/magazine/the-touch-of-madness-mental-health-schizophrenia

Click on the link above for this wonderful (lengthy – and well worth the time investment) piece. Nev’s perspective aligns with how we see ‘madness’ at this service. Thank you, David – and Nev. Also thanks to Jason Hine, whose Facebook post put us onto this.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in anti-psychotics, civil rights, community, consciousness, cultural questions, cultural taboos, diagnoses of bipolar, Disconnection, diversity, empathy, empowerment, equality, ethics, external locus, friendship, healing, hearing voices, identity, interconnection & belonging, internal locus of evaluation, loneliness, loss, medical model, meditation, neuroscience, Nev Jones, non-conforming, organismic experiencing, perception, political, power and powerlessness, presence, psychiatric abuse, psychiatric drugs, psychiatry, psychosis, reality, sacred illness, schizophrenia, self, self concept, transformation, trauma, trust, violence, vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Matt Licata on Ego

‘Ego’ for many of us becomes a term of abuse for self/other and source of shame. Here’s a radically different and far more accurate/useful take on this….

Thanks, Matt.

Here’s the text for those who have difficulty seeing Facebook links:-

‘Someone recently asked why I do not write about the “ego” and my understanding of that term. It’s not a word I use often as I have come to find it to be a pretty disembodied and experience-distant concept. Also, it is one of those words which usually carries with it an element of shame, often used as a way to attack our vulnerability and humanness. But mostly, I have looked long and hard and have never found such a thing in my immediate experience. 

It might be helpful to see “ego” as a process or verb, rather than a noun, countering the idea that it is some reified entity that exists within us, surprisingly with a voice similar to early, misattuned attachment figures. The “ego” is often spoken about as some “thing” that takes us over – a nasty, ignorant little person inside who causes us to be really lame and unevolved. Above all else, it’s super unspiritual, something we must work hard to “get rid of.” If the ego is anything, it is likely those voices yelling at us to “get rid of it.” But how do we get rid of something that isn’t actually there? 

When we slow down and step outside the world of conceptual spirituality, attuning to our actual present experience, do we find an “ego” there? Or is the “ego” a disembodied concept that we learned one day? Please don’t take my word for it. Turn inside and see. 

One simple way of approaching “ego” is as any activity which leads us to turn from, abandon, deny, or practice aggression toward what is present in our immediate experience. If sadness, rage, a constricted throat, a heavy heart, an aroused nervous system, or cascade of critical, ruminative thoughts appear, ego would be that process whereby we move away from that experience rather than toward it, which would be a more embodied, yogic, or compassionate response. 

This movement away, the essence of so much of our emotional suffering, takes place by denying what is there, on the one hand; or fusing with it as who we ultimately are on the other. Both strategies (corresponding to limbic fight-flight as well as anxious-avoidant attachment) inevitably trigger engagement with compensatory (addictive) behavior, designed to take us as quickly as possible out of our embodied vulnerability. 

In other words, ego is a process of dissociation and splitting off, in the attempt to prevent overwhelming anxiety from spilling into conscious awareness. Or, in spiritual language, the attempt to protect us from just how open, unknown, and mysterious it really is here, where anything could happen at any time. We could lose our jobs, a loved one could die, a lover could leave us, our hearts could break, we could forget why we’re here, and the meaning in our lives could dissolve in front of our very eyes. 

If we want to know more about ego in an experiential way, we can start by getting really curious about those feelings we will do just about anything to avoid. We can make the commitment to notice when we are caught in habitual, addictive behavior, including complaining, blaming others (or ourselves), unconscious self-aggression, eating when not hungry, etc. – anything, really, to avoid feeling. 

It can be icky to turn toward the panic, claustrophobia, restlessness, and sense that things are just not safe. But we do so in any case, slowly, not out of some masochistic compulsion, but out of curiosity, self-compassion, and a longing to love and care for ourselves in a new way. 

What is it that I’m trying to avoid? What aspect of my vulnerability am I needing to bail out on? Would I, even for a second or two, be willing to shift the momentum and meet that which has been trying to reach me for so long? To invite that one home and see what he or she has to say? To end the cycle of abandonment. 

In this way, we can use the surges of “ego” – whatever it is – as an invitation and reminder to infuse our experience with empathy, warmth, kindness, and breath. In this sense, ego is an invitation into presence, a special, wrathful sort of doorway into wholeness.

Love will do anything to reach us, even create concepts like “the ego,” in the longing that we will use even those to return home. So I suppose in this way we can salvage the use of the term “ego,” at least for today.’

Matt Licata

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

 

Posted in blaming, compassion, compulsive behaviour, conditions of worth, core conditions, cultural questions, Disconnection, embodiment, emotions, empathy, encounter, human condition, identity, kindness & compassion, love, Matt Licata, meaning, meditation, organismic experiencing, perception, presence, sadness & pain, self, self concept, shame, shaming, spirituality, vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Moment – Margaret Atwood

‘The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.’

Margaret Atwood

Thank you to Stephen Tame, Krista Tippett/On Being and Parker J. Palmer for showing us this beautiful poem. It resonates strongly with the writer, who holds legal title to a wood. She does not think or speak of herself as ‘owner/owning’. From the outset, the right word has felt like ‘stewardship’, which of course carries a whole other set of beliefs and values to ‘ownership’ – relationship/connection of many layers, in place of disconnection and exploitation. Her reward is to be held in the soft arms of the trees, to hear the language of the birds and to find space to breathe.

Here’s a book link (please note, we are not 100% sure this poem is in this book, although we suspect so – and even if not, there will be many other treasures…).

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eating-Fire-Selected-Poetry-1965-1995/dp/1844086933/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506953950&sr=8-1&keywords=margaret+atwood+poetry

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in abuse, cultural questions, Disconnection, ecological, ecological issues, interconnection & belonging, meaning, natural world, Parker J Palmer, perception, relationship | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mirabai Starr on our unhappiness

“I think that much of our depression, anxiety, and addiction has to do with what John writes about: the soul’s need and longing for transcendence. This need is instinctual and unavoidable.”

Mirabai Starr – Dark Night of the Soul

Here’s the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in actualizing tendency, awakening, compulsive behaviour, Disconnection, meaning, Mirabai Starr, psychiatry, sadness & pain, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment