The space we fall into
as the thought structure is transcended
is warm and fulfilling
all by itself.
Dale: There is an experience going on which at this point in my life is causing me some pain. I want to talk about it in terms of what we have been looking at here.
I keep focusing on wanting to have a relationship with somebody and putting myself kind of on the back burner. Sometimes the desire manifests itself as wanting an actual relationship and sometimes it manifests as wanting a sexual relationship only.
I am at the point of being able to let go and I feel like I keep wanting to say to myself that the only person I need to have a relationship with right now is Cod. That usually works, except then I get really anxious about when will Cod provide me with the kind of personal relationship that I want.
I think I already understand my situation in certain ways but I want to open it up and see if you could shed some light on it in a way that is healing so that when I am alone, I feel more complete.
Are you saying to me that when you are alone you don’t feel complete? I just want to be sure that I understood the last statement you made.
Dale: Yes, I feel like I am not enough when I’m alone and I feel very needy in that way.
In order to understand what you are saying, it is very important that we enter into a refined and delicate communication. If you don’t mind, I need to ask you a question or two and then let’s see if we can unstrand the threads of what you are going through.
When you say that you feel incomplete, how does that feel? How do you know you are feeling incomplete? I don’t understand what it means to feel incomplete. Can you try to express that to me?
Dale: It feels uncomfortable. It’s like not having or feeling enough love for myself.
When you say, “I don’t feel that I have enough love for myself” — just so that you and I are very clear—is that a thought or a feeling?
Dale: It is probably more a thought.
There is a thought there. In other words, something is being explained by that thought. Now when we speak of the feeling, where do you experience it? How do you know you are having a feeling and not a thought? Discomfort. The discomfort is where?
Dale: It feels…. it feels alone. I feel….
Okay, I understand what you are saying, and forgive me for prodding, but it is the only way we can really understand. When I hear you say, “It feels alone,” I don’t know what you mean. I am not clear and I want to be very clear with you.
Dale: I understand. It feels like…. anxious.
Okay, and the anxiety is where?
Dale: It ends up surrounding my chest, not knowing what to do….
But the “not knowing what to do” is different from that which is surrounding your chest, isn’t that true?
I mean the “not knowing what to do” is a specific kind of thought pattern. That which is surrounding your chest really doesn’t have a “do” or a “not do” attached to it. It is an experience in and of itself.
The “not knowing what to do” is a relationship to a particular feeling experience. It functions as a habit. “When I feel this sensation, then I have a particular stream of thoughts about not knowing what to do.” An association has been made between a certain bodily experience and a cluster of thoughts. This is conditioning. The two seem to emerge simultaneously, but they are actually different. Do you follow what I am saying here?
The anxiety— what you are calling anxiety— is not confusion; it is something else. The confusion is on the level of thought.
So in order for you and me to really understand what it is we are talking about, it may be necessary to free the bodily side of your experience from the word “anxiety” or the thought, “I don’t know what to do.”
Here, we don’t want to define your feelings in a way that is pat, easy and trivial. We want to know you and to feel you as a uniqueness, but to do that we must come into the uniqueness of your experience. We don’t even know what anxiety is. All we know is that you are having an experience at the physical level and that you can locate it somewhere in and around the chest. Are you feeling it right now? Is it there in a strong way?
Dale: No, right now I am feeling very supported.
Very supported. And how do you know you’re feeling that?
Dale: I feel warm.
Do you feel warm in the same physical location that you were feeling the anxiety?
In other words the problem doesn’t exist right now.
Dale: I can feel it slightly, but there is real warmth right now. I feel cared for.
So in this present moment, as you and I sit together, there is no problem.
And you feel warm and cared for. Let’s go to that together for just a minute. Let’s actually share that. This is the experience of not having a problem. “I feel warm.” And that warmth is a living experience, not a thought. Its a warmth in the body. Do you feel confused at this moment?
Dale: Not right now, no.
So as you sit here, even the confusion is gone.
Dale: I feel a little light-headed, but not confused.
Now when you brought up the problem, you brought it up in terms of something that kind of menaces you “out there,” but it isn’t menacing you right here, now.
So we are speaking about something that you anticipate is going to happen in the future because it has happened to you so many times in the past.
But you weren’t speaking about what is actually here with you at this moment. The observation we can make, which is a beautiful observation, is that the warmth — and correct me if I am wrong and what you were calling the anxiety, take place in the same physical space.
Now this could lead to one of two conclusions: a) the warmth and the anxiety are different and, when the warmth is there, it is there because, in some way, it has pushed the anxiety away, and the anxiety is there because it has pushed the warmth away; or b) they are differing versions of the same experience.
Dale: Yeah, sometimes recently I have come to feel that they are different versions of the same feelings. When I ran away, it became aloneness; otherwise it was very different. I really saw that.
Now it’s interesting that when you call it aloneness and you run away from it, there is only one place to run to — into thoughts where the feeling doesn’t seem to exist. When you run away, the earmark of your running is, “I don’t know what to do.”
Dale: And then I practice certain behaviors that sort of push the feeling more into the background. The thoughts get stronger.
Exactly. The cycle that you go through is an attempt to make foreign and push away that which you think you don’t want to experience directly. Now, that’s aloneness. That’s a certified lonely experience — to have something going on in the body which we feel we don’t want to have going on there and then to push our attention into thought and fantasy so that we stay distracted from our own body.
The thinking mechanism suggests that the feeling is about something you do in relationship, or the need for relationship, or a problem that you have. Thinking is describing it for you. But when you allow yourself, as you have done tonight, to simply come to the present, to the bodily present, you discover that you feel warmth.
Dale: Just sitting with it and allowing it to be there and being surrounded by others and sharing it feels warm.
Yes, this warmth is something that feels related, doesn’t it? The warmth that you’re feeling now is a connection between you and me as well as a connection with the others who are here. The warmth is not loneliness.
Dale: It’s fullness.
It’s fullness and so you don’t feel incomplete as you sit here right now. This is not a facetious question; it is a genuine question, and it’s an important one although it may have a certain humor to it: What is the problem? I don’t remember anymore what your problem was. Do you?
I mean, is that true? In order to come back to the problem would you have to manufacture it?
Dale: I would have to make it up again.
You would have to make it up again. That’s an interesting statement and a very important one. In order to experience the problem, you would have to make it up again. Now we are in a radical and delicate place — a place I know that could, on the one hand, scare someone off, or be strangely confusing to the intellect. All we’re saying, however, is that as you sit here without the vehicle of thought, turned toward yourself in a direct and respecting manner, you discover that the problem was made up. I don’t want to put words in your mouth. I want to be sure that this is what you are observing.
Dale: Yes, this is something that I pretty much knew.
That the whole configuration of insights and analysis, difficulties and disturbances, in relationship to this particular experience, were all fabricated. The truth is that certain movements of energy are occurring in the body and they are neither confusing nor not confusing. They are what they are. And when you allow yourself, in a sensitive and simple way, to experience what’s going on, the problem disappears.
Dale: Yeah, I don’t have to tell myself a story about it.
Right, there’s nothing.
Dale: There’s just experiencing the feeling.
Yes, this is self-care. You don’t attend to the conflict. You attend to the heart, the area around the heart and the body, in a more general way. We are delicate beings, dwelling in a mysterious place, and we experience waves of energy in the body. Period. We have given the thought process a kind of permission to exploit those waves for purposes which are not entirely clear.
When that which is exploiting the feeling is no longer given permission to do so, the problem, as we knew it, disappears and something else appears which feels cared for, alive, warm and connected.
Dale: Yeah, it helps. I’ve heard you refer to the body before as a holy vessel, and that Spirit is the essence which fills that vessel.
Spirit can be felt as waves of feeling. When we name those feelings in demeaning ways, we find ourselves caught in chains. When we allow those feelings to remain unnamed, they pulsate in the body. Our feelings are waves of love being experienced in a variety of ways.
When a person is able to release themselves from patterns of demeaning thought and to find the energetic wave at the source of all so-called emotional experiences, we have the opportunity to create in free and uncluttered ways. When we are manacled by thought, caught in the clutches of old beliefs, we are merely repeating some teaching that we took on in the past.
Coming to the present and recognizing the warmth which is there evokes the possibility of a true creative act. We can begin to use both body and mind differently. The impulse of life, which we had burdened with our personalized concerns now becomes an available creative force. This is the power of coming to the space in which the past no longer exists. It no longer defines our current experiences.
The space which we fall into as the thought structure is transcended is warm and fulfilling all by itself. But it is also a place of potential creativity capable of manifesting new forms of service and love.
Dale: I like that.
I do too.
Mary: Often sitting in these circles with you, the whole front of my body becomes warm or even hot in just the way Dale was describing. Is the heat an edge where the force or the energy meets the resistance?
The heat functions like a fever. It burns off density and brings more openness or porousness to the body. It is healing. After the fever has done its work, we may experience a consistent warmth in the frontal membrane, the heart and the area around the heart. That warmth is our emotional life when stripped of all demands from the past.
The intense heat burns off that which is dense and obstructed. It opens passageways. It relieves inflammation and congestion in the subtle and invisible arenas of the bodily form and its radiant field.
As the body becomes tempered, the heat moderates and becomes a steady warmth. But even the word “warmth” is a little confusing here because it is more like a breeze — very soothing and gentle. That warmth is compassion, a deep attraction to life — Eros.
From Stephen R. Schwartz. Angelic Dialogues – The Work of Compassionate Self-Care. Riverrun Press, Piermont NY: 1993. pp. 11-20.