A woman comes into practice, around the age of 40. She experiences an alcohol addiction.
For years she is involved in a fight with 'alcohol'. Her partner is often gone, he is very active in club life, so she is alone for many evenings.
If he is there, she says, I know how to hold back, I drink two glasses in the weekend and I don't drink during the week. But if he isn't there..., there is nobody watching me, there is no outside break. Then it goes well for a few evenings, but after a few evenings, when I am in the supermarket, I can't resist buying a bottle of wine. Then I say to myself: okay, one glass of wine..., you deserve it, but at the end of the evening the bottle is empty.
I'm just stunning myself.
If I listen to you, then I hear/feel that dealing with alcohol is based on 'willpower' and then it becomes a fight with the alcohol: you have to be strong of yourself, you have to persevere, you aren't allowed to drink. Is that right?
Yes, that's right and I'm so tired of always forcing myself to the edge.
I can imagine..., you never get out of this pattern when you follow this strategy of the mind, it remains a fight. Willpower doesn't bring you home, it keeps you trapped in alcohol addiction. And it is precisely that same willpower that makes you drink..., how crazy that may sound to you... Just before this, you said in our exchange that your husband irritates you...
You have a few days off, vacation... and then your husband comes with a plan for some jobs that needs to be done at home.
Yes, she says, those eternal lists of him of what needs to be done in and around the house, I just want nothing, just REST...
Do you recognize yourself in it?
What do you mean, she asks?
Could it be that you don't have an external list of assignments and jobs that have to be done as your husband has, but that you have an inner list? That you are always in the 'to do' mode, you just keep going on with all kind of tasks that you impose on yourself?
Yes, she says, that's right, the line is always taut with me..., I am always running and flying. Sometimes my son says:'Go sit on your ass'. Then I react:'Yes, you have easy talk, I would like that too, but I still have to do everything and someone else doesn't do it for me'
That sounds pretty 'victimized', 'poor me', I say to the client.
Yes, that is true, she says.
Okay, what happens in you when you drink those glasses of alcohol?
I experience that a load of tension falls away from me, finally no 'have to do'.
That is interesting..., that you use the word 'must' and 'have to do' so often.
Yes, she says, I long for REST...
Yes, I say, I can understand that. Can you see that you are in the grip of the slavedriver in you, the doer? If you are constantly under stress of the internal lists in you that you must follow up, then compensation is needed..., there is no other way..., no man will keep it full if the bow is always tight. And that compensation looks to you in such a way that you long for relaxation and you think you will find it in alcohol, while it is actually sedation. And sedation is something different than relaxation from within. Another person will watch series or eat to numb themselves, you use the alcohol to experience a sensation of 'loose', 'rest' and 'relaxation'. So you can be in a fight with alcohol, but that is not the solution. The solution lies in seeing through the 'doer', in letting out the personal will power, which is equal to tension and overstrain. That peace that you long for, can only arise if you recognize the slave driver in yourself and don't act on it anymore. That is not a simple process, because 'not acting' can also be used again from the mind, from the same level of the slavedriver: I have to relax, I must relax. That doer is completely interwoven with your personality structure, so the pitfall is that you want to tackle the slavedriver by the mind, which is doomed to fail in advance. But it is possible to let the transformation take place if you are really fed up with this pattern of numbness. If you want to live from relaxation, then there is a way out, but it does require total effort...
Do I have a choice? she says, the alternative is that I still go on with this issue, year in, year out, that's not what I want. Because? I ask.
Because life is just not nice, you live from one job to another job, everything is 'work'.
Okay, well to realize that..., if you really want to break with the slavedriver, then give your total commitment to see through the 'doer'. Break through the addiction of 'must' and 'go on'. Live from relaxation. There is everything on your internal list, but that doesn't mean that it has to happen all today... Feel, experience what is right on this moment, which indicates the flow of Life. Release the helm, let yourself be guided instead of living that 'me' that is always tensed and stressed, because it isn't connected to Life itself.
I will give an example. Suppose the thought comes to up that the shed can use a turn, organize everything again, sort it out, clean up etc. Previously the job was planned, according to how you and your husband act. The date was fixed and whether it felt good that day or not: the barn had to be done. Often this meant a certain tension, because the action didn't match the current that was going on in me or my partner at that moment. Now, that process is very different. The thought blows through me at some point and I wait... until the impulse comes by itself to tackle the shed. This impulse doesn't come from tension, from 'it has to happen now', from the 'me' that puts itself under pressure, from the voice that says: if I do it today, then it's done, then I can rest (which is of course an illusion, because from the point of view of the slavedriver, the 'I', there is always another job that still has to be done).
If you live from the energy of the 'doer', then everything is 'work' and 'duty', then compensation is needed, then you need a vacation or a bottle of alcohol to silence the doer.
If you act from inner relaxation, from Life itself, then there is no longer a dichotomy between 'jobs/work' and 'free time'.
Listen to the voice of Life itself: what is right for you at the moment? There are also tasks that come back every day, or there is a job you have to 'go' to. Here too: do you work out of stress, out of the slavedriver or from presence and relaxation? You can't enforce that relaxation. If only there was a button that would bring you home, from one moment to the next, in Life itself (what you are), beyond the slavedriver and the "I" who wants and needs everything…, that would be great, but unfortunately it doesn't work like that. Sit down on the couch, as your son indicates, be present at the resistance which then arises from the slavedriver. Don't listen to the voices that wants you to take action at that moment..., let the adrenalinerush cease raging. Be open to the impulses of Life itself, take the time to lie down, to walk or sit in the sun..., so in time the wheel of the doer can come to a standstill.
See when you get back in the grip of the 'doer', take a step back, breathe a bit deeper... and consider the following questions: What am I doing? Is this what I want? Do I want to live like this? See through the automatic pattern of the doer. And one day you notice that something has shifted, you experience relaxation, you enjoy life..., everything is good as it is..., you discover that no slavedriver is needed to accomplish that what should be done. Your job hasn't changed, but you are changed. And a glass of wine in time..., delicious, but not a must to come to a feeling of relaxation (which is actually sedation). What a liberation...
LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes
A young client comes into practice.
A few years ago she also visited the practice a few times and now she is back again, I'm curious how she's doing, nice to meet her again.
She indicates that she has been afraid to fly for several years and that she has recently experienced the same fear as she gets into the car.
She comprehends on a deeper level than before that death is a real given. When she gets into the car, she realizes that a traffic accident is possible and that a violent collision can result in death. And the thought of a possible death evokes fear.
She also had a dream about a crashing plane. In her dream, she saw a plane from the beach lifelike above the sea. The moment the plane was at altitude and ended up in the stabilization phase, it suddenly plunged down, deep into the ocean, and then it rose again above the water. She saw that the plane was split in two: everyone at the front of the plane was still alive and everyone at the back of the plane was dead.
Her last aircraft experience was recently, a skiing holiday. Three days in advance, she felt the tension rising in her and it continued until the plane had entered the stabilization phase.
She says: 'I am afraid to die, and I also often have the idea that I will die when I am physically ill'.
How did you deal with the fear of flying the last time?
Well, I reassured myself that it would all be okay and I just let the fear be there, I squeezed my friend's hand and slowly the fear subsided. Great, I say, and how did it go then?
At a certain moment it was quiet again…
Okay, so the fear went out... because you did not fight against it, but just stayed with it.
Yes, but I find it a very annoying feeling, I never had a fear of flying in the past. It is strange that it suddenly comes up. I think that the explanation is...
And then she talks about a plane experience 2 years ago, that she was shocked by the turbulence, grabbed her sister's arm, who reacted in a negative way to it.
It is certainly possible that that experience had a specific impact, but you aren't sure if that is the explanation for what is going on in you. Before that experience, two years ago, were you always calm during turbulence with other flights? No, she says, I could also be a little anxious, but not as bad as the flights of the past two years.
How bad is it really? I ask.
Well, she says, if you're nervous three days in advance…, the last time I even had to cry at the thought that I was going to fly…, I just want it to go away..., that it's doesn't bother me any longer.
She is crying a few tears. Allow it, I say, do you feel the fear now? Yes. Okay, I say, just go with your attention to the pain, just look where that fear is in your body... and stay right there..., breathe into the fear..., feel your feet on the ground... and observe the energy of the fear..., let the energy be there without fighting it..., you are so afraid of dying…
She sobs… For a moment she allows her anxiety/grief to melt, but soon I see that something takes place internally which stops the grief. What is happening to you now? You felt the fear, there were tears and then? Then comes the thought: 'don't make an issue of nothing, don't be childish'. Okay, I say. Do you recognize those voices?
What do you mean? she says.
That these messages were given to you, that this is not your Nature, but your structure? Structure is all that has been learned: how you should behave, how to (not) deal with pain..., the whole package of beliefs that you get from upbringing and society etc.
Nature is your essence which incidentally is not yours, as if there are two: you and nature... No, you yourself are nature. The structure later emerges as a layer over your Nature. The structure is also a part of your nature, but a tight, restricted version of it.
You indicated earlier in the conversation that you wanted to e-mail me for an appointment and that it took a while before you actually sent the e-mail, because these voices (you can do it on your own, there is not really a problem, be strong, don't be childish) initially prevented you from making an appointment.
Yes that's right.
Is it nature or structure that you wanted to mail me for an appointment? Nature, she says. Exactly, I say, and the voices that said 'nothing is wrong, don't make an issue of it', is that nature or structure? Structure, she says.
Yes, the structure is everything that is supposedly poured into you by parents, family, school and culture. Not that your parents are to blame..., that's not what it's all about, it's just a collective fact that hardly anyone has learned to deal with pain and everyone received messages like 'don't be childish, be strong', and above that we haven't learned at all to deal with uncertainty, to deal with the great unknown factor of existence: death. Existence by itself is unknown, uncertain, you never know what will happen the next moment.
We are afraid of Life, we don't want to feel insecure, we want to have control, we want to know what the next moment brings, what is not possible, because existence, Life itself, is by nature uncertain.
Humanity is massively focused on pleasure, life has to be fun.
The dark may not be there, the dark isn't allowed. Fear, hatred, loneliness, impotence, insecurity and so on, have to leave. We suppress everything that is painful, because we don't want to feel vulnerable, impotent and insecure.
Massively we avoid pain by stunning ourselves with anything and everything (alcohol, candy, watching series, drugs).
And what people don't understand is that suffering is caused by the suppression of all those painful emotions.
Do you understand? If you only want to drink from the cup that presents 'light' and avoid the cup that presents 'darkness', then suffering is the result, because the dark also wants to be seen, so that it can melt or evaporate.
There is light and there is darkness, day and night, cold and heat. It is like the two sides of a coin. They belong together. Dark can't exist without light and light can't exist without darkness. By allowing pain, by being present in fear, by bringing light to that which appears dark, the pain melts, the fear melts, the fear extinguishes. But that isn't what we have been given. We have often learned to suppress and avoid pain by seeking distraction.
And it seems that existence is knocking on your door: see me (face death, the great unknown, uncertainty, look at the dark sight), meet me. Existence invites you to overcome the fear of death... so that you can live to the full, so that you no longer have to cling to anything and everything, to false certainties. Do not forget who you are. You are Nature, the Light, Life itself. And life is uncertain, because Life flows... and you never know where it is going… (although you think you know it).
'Your' soul wants to make a growth spurt and it puts 'mortal fear' on your plate. Yes, and then of course there is resistance from the structure (I don't want to feel this, it has to go away), because that is what we have learned: suppress anxiety or swallow it away with medication. Which doesn't mean that medication is not a solution for some people, it really is, because not everyone is able to turn inwards and endure the oppressed pain.
Embrace the fear of death from the Light, from awareness, from attentiveness, so that the fear of death can melt. You are not the fear. The fear takes place in you, but you (Nature, Beingness) are free of fear. Stay fully present with the fear, realizing that you are not the fear, but that the energy of fear is passing through you. You look, as it were, at the movement and experience of mortal fear. When it provokes sadness or certain images..., stay with it, look at it..., but don't go into a story..., be with it until it goes out and it becomes quiet in you. Experience what it is like to be totally insecure and vulnerable. Experience what it is like to have no control over Life (even if you think so). If you dare to look at Death, you discover Life.
Over time you increasingly come home to yourself, your Nature, then you can see through the layer called structure, which has been laid over your Nature, you don't act on it anymore.
So don't honor those voices (your pain is nothing, don't be childish) when the fear or sadness is there. Stay with your full attention and experience the pain. Give up your resistance. That's all...
At the end of the consultation, the client is thanking me for the insights. She feels relieved, she now understands what is going on.
Three quarters of a year later she e-mails, after a few flights with the plane, that the fear has largely been extinguished by presence, by looking at fear instead of surpressing the fear.
It is good that we don't have a full choise. If we had full choice, we would not choose any experience who is painful; if you would only go for the sugar flavor experience, you would not grow. So life, out of love for all of its forms, brings you what you need, but you often don't like.(Mooji)
Linked-In: Caroline Ootes