Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sacred Work

“Know thyself.” These two little words (originally posted at the temple of the Oracle at Delphi in ancient Greece) form the basis of all psychology, said renowned psychoanalyst Erich Fromm. And so, my husband and I trundled 6 miles down the road to Esalen Institute last week, for six days of guided exploration on this endlessly fascinating topic.

The workshop, The Intimate Couple, was led by modern-day seers Jack Rosenberg and Beverly Kitaen-Morse, PhD’s with decades of experience in helping souls know themselves better. The goal: to feel more joy and fulfillment during our brief time on the planet with each other.

Yes, I confess there's a vision of Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice in the back of my mind, especially since we're in the Fritz (Perls) meeting room, where Fritz himself lived, the founder of Gestalt therapy and leader of the original encounter groups in the 60's.

The name for Jack and Beverly’s system is Integrative Body Pyschotherapy. Healing and honoring ourselves, v. repeating old patterns that perpetuate our wounds, is the key. Only when I am fully present (the work of consciousness) can I truly give, to myself and to my loved ones.

It’s all in the breath. This is where we dip into our core sense of Self, the “I am” that guides us through our journey. This awakens our sense of “authenticity and aliveness in the body." After our week of practice, we have a big fat book that explains it all, with diagrams and breath exercises, some yummy memories, and a fresh perspective on our internal landscapes.

It seems that it’s not just “know thyself”, but also “share thyself.” One of the most extraordinary phenomena of a workshop of this sort, where mature people come together in the spirit of discovery with compassionate experts, is the electrifying realization that as much we are different, we are also the same, underneath. Even gender differences recede, becoming merely a facet of core self, when we consider the basics: how much love did you receive as a child, and how much love can you give and receive today?

I "show up" by being powerfully vulnerable. Someone who I didn't see fully comes into focus, beautifully. Or someone who intimidated me becomes simply human, more like me than I could ever have realized. We weave a common thread of humanity between us and grow closer, despite our superficial variations. Imagine applying this dynamic cocktail of vulnerability and understanding to your beloved, expressed in the body, and you get the picture: the potential for communion.

By the end of the week we'd shared profound truths, and belly laughs usually reserved for old-timers sitting on the porch together. We took ancient skeletons out of our closets, then Jack and Beverly wrapped them up tenderly in soft, exotic fabrics. We danced with them gently around the room and out under the stars, and found they weren't so bad after all.

Photo by Linda Sonrisa. Skeletal couple courtesy of http://www.diadelosmuertos.us/


Anonymous said...

You could not have phrased this, or captured the moment any better, Linda. One most definitely gets the energy that you came away with. You "show up" in all of your posts!

Cheryl said...

Linda thank you for reminding me of the journey we all took. It's a gentle remembrance of the "I am" spot that I worked to feel. With the passing days I feel the tug to use the old tools and save my new learned tools for a sunny day. It good to hear your words and be encourage to be. Love you, Cheryl

Lori Bedford said...

Your writing is "yummy"! Food for my brain and soul.

Wendy said...

Thanks so much for sharing and putting into words our common experience!
I treasure our time with you and Toby and we are so happy you are having your "second honeymoon."
Just wanted to let you know there is a slight correction, it is actually known as "Integrative Body Psychotherapy" or IBP)

Camille Bright-Smith said...

Oh how I love the Dia De Los Muertos Portrait! I really enjoyed hearing about this in person, but your post about it is so informative. I feel like I might even be able to apply some of these ideas to our own work after reading it here.

We had a good session today...its so much better working TOGETHER!