Monday, June 9, 2008
Where the Ivy Used to Be
I love the pervasive theme in the Ridley Scott film, Kingdom of Heaven (starring the adorable Orlando Bloom): that people are what they do. I like that idea and think it's true. In addition to what we actually do, we humans spend a lot of time telling ourselves (and each other) who we are based on ideas we have about ourselves.
All my years in psychotherapy served to help me readjust the stories I tell myself about myself. It helped me go a long ways towards resolving some piece of the disparity between story and experience.
My work with the brilliant Sufi acupuncturist has taken this process a big step further. Lately I've been able to look underneath the stories. I've been able to drop down into a quiet place of no words, a realm in which I can perceive the structural underpinnings of my storytelling apparatus, the energy from which my storytelling originates. It's a very revealing place to visit.
I've been looking at the emotional and energetic states from which my stories arise, asking myself how my stories serve me. One really amazing revelation is that anxiety, worry, and anger all "help" me gather energy. Unfortunately it's a hollow energy that comes mostly from my adrenal function, but when I'm depleted and don't have any "real" energy, if I work myself into a state of great anxiety, I can push through whatever tasks are at hand. It's not a sustainable plan. Later I always crash. Adrenal based energy is always exhausting because it has no center. It has no ground. It's a flash in the pan, meant only for emergencies.
When I access adrenal energy, life feels like an emergency. That feeling is the "true" source of my heinous stories of doom and disaster, stories I then begin to believe, even though the stories are a result of the anxiety, not the underlying cause. Balanced, "authentic" energy comes from well digested food, good sleep, and heart-connections with others. The stories that arise from what I think of as authentic energy are hopeful, loving and expansive. These stories are not exhausting.
Blah blah blah. I do go on, don't I? The pic at the top of the post is a perfect illustration of what I've been up to, staring intently at the place in my life where the ivy used to be. It's not there anymore. I can start fresh. You know, not all ivy is nice. Some varieties are downright mean. Maybe this time, instead of ivy, I'll grow roses. Oh yeah! Why not?