Letting things Happen
An answer to a persons dream and their response
You must know the symbol of Yin-Yang. It is so helpful in understanding certain things, especially to the Western mind. The reason being that we are usually raised to see things as Either true – Or false; either THIS or That; either Good or Bad. The symbol has a spot of white in the black, and a spot of black in the white. The black and the white, the false and the true, the yes and the no, are all together in the circle – as one. They are not separated. In China there is a saying Wu Wei. Sometimes this is translated as non-action, unattached action. Jung quoted it as meaning ‘not this – not that. In other words, moving beyond Either Or. good or bad, evil or holy, right or wrong.
|The picture is an illustration of this and shows how our mind is programmed to see either THIS, or THAT.|
If you look at the picture you either see it as the top left line sloping upwards OR downwards. You can’t see it as both at once – but there is a way. See if you can find it. The point is in response to what was said to me – “Because your question makes it sound like the energy makes you that way rather than changing yourself to receive it.” Actually they are both true at the same time. They do not need to be either or. The life energy CAN change you. It HAS changed you as it grew you from conception to adulthood. But opening to it allows things that most people do not let into their life. What I am asking is have you noticed if it has produced changes since you have begun allowing the spontaneous into you life? Here is a quote from Jung. It is a slightly condensed version of what he wrote in his commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower.
The book is about Chinese meditation practices. It is a very dense book to read. This quote is not directly related to you, but it is about receiving and its effects. “…the essential urge to find a new way lay in the fact that the fundamental problem of the patient seemed insoluble to me unless violence was done to the one or the other side of his nature. I always worked with the temperamental conviction that in the last analysis there are no insoluble problems, and experience has so far justified me in that I have often seen individuals who simply outgrew a problem which had destroyed others.
This ‘outgrowing’, as I called it previously, revealed itself on further experience to be the raising of the level of consciousness….. “Here and there it happened in my practice that a patient grew beyond the dark possibilities within themselves, and the observation of the fact was an experience of the foremost importance to me. In the meantime I had learned to see that the greatest and most important problems of life are all fundamentally insoluble. They must be so, because they express the necessary polarity inherent in every self-regulating system. They cannot be solved, but only outgrown.
I therefore asked myself whether this possibility of outgrowing, or further psychic development, was normal, while to remain caught in a conflict was something pathological. Everyone must posses that higher level [of possible growth], at least in embryonic form, and in favourable circumstances, must be able to develop the possibility. When I examined the way of development of those persons who, quietly, and as if unconsciously, grew beyond themselves, I saw that their fates had something in common. Whether arising from without or within, the new thing came to all those person from a dark field of possibilities; they accepted it and developed further by means of it….
“What then did these people do in order to achieve the progress which freed them? As far as I could see they did nothing but let things happen… The art of letting things happen, action in non action, letting go of oneself, as taught by Master Eckhart, became a key for me… The key is this: we must be able to let things happen in the psyche. For us, this becomes a real art of which few people know anything. Consciousness is forever interfering, helping, correcting, and negating, and never leaving the simple growth of the psychic processes in peace. It would be a simple enough thing to do if only simplicity were not the most difficult of all things. It consists solely in watching objectively the development of any fragment of fantasy.
Nothing could be simpler than this, and yet right here the difficulties begin. Apparently no fantasy fragment is at hand – yes there is one, but it is too stupid! Thousands of good excuses are brought against it: one cannot concentrate on it; it is too boring; what could come of it? It is ‘nothing but’, etc. The conscious raises prolific objections. In fact, it often seems bent on blotting out the spontaneous fantasy activity despite the intention, nay, the firm determination of the individual, to allow the psychic processes to go forward without intervention.
In many cases there exists a veritable spasm of the conscious. “If one is successful in overcoming the initial difficulties, criticism is likely to start afterwards and attempt to interpret the fantasy, to classify, to Aestheticise, or to depreciate it. The temptation to do this is almost irresistible. After a complete and faithful observation, free rein can be given to the impatience of the conscious; in fact it must be given, else obstructing resistances develop.
But each time the fantasy material is to be produced, the activity of the conscious must be put aside. “In most cases the results of these efforts are not very encouraging at first. Moreover, the way of getting at the fantasies is individually different… oftentimes the hands alone can fantasy; they model or draw figures that are quite foreign to the conscious.
“These exercises must be continued until the cramp in the conscious is released, or, in other words, until one can let things happen; which was the immediate goal of the exercise. In this way, a new attitude is created, an attitude which accepts the irrational and the unbelievable, simply because it is what is happening. The attitude would be poison for a person who has already been overwhelmed by things that just happen, but it is of the highest value for one who, with an exclusively conscious critique, chooses from the things that happen only those appropriate to his consciousness, and thus gets gradually drawn away from the stream of life into a stagnant backwater.” Quoted from my book Mind and Movement
As you can see, Jung is saying that most people cannot ‘let things happen’, and he is trying to explain how to do it. I had to learn step by step. But he also says that you can grow beyond your problem. A baby cannot stop messing its pants, but if it is allowed to grow it will naturally ‘grow beyond that problem’. Surrender, openness, letting things happen, is a key to what Jung talks about – a healing process, and a key to most of the great spiritual practices. This is why I quote it. If you came to it by yourself, I only gradually want to expose you to a wider understanding of it.
Here is a woman’s – Pat – description of finding how to allow the spontaneous. “Then the whole thing began to flow. I suddenly knew with utter certainty that when I was in my mother’s womb I was totally loved. I can’t tell you how marvellous it felt to know that love again – being totally, safely, securely lapped in love. I simply lay there experiencing the love. I knew, with a great sense of compassion, understanding and forgiveness that as soon as I left the womb my mother couldn’t love me the same way, couldn’t cope with the stresses life put on her. I remembered a vision I had when I was with Tony in Devon. I saw my mother’s breast dripping milk, a thin watery, vinegary milk and I burst into tears saying I wanted full-cream milk. I now felt totally linked with my mother again. All the rage and anger which had gradually been dropping away over the past few months was now gone. The tremendous linking remained. “After that lot I lay in bed awake feeling happy. I lay awake for about two hours . I realised I had never been able to accept love – never been able to accept Gary’s full-cream-milk love. I was constitutionally unable to.”
When I first met Pat she struck me a someone with very frozen feelings, especially in regard to her sexuality. It therefore gave me a lot of pleasure to hear her news of change. But I wondered what Pat had needed to be or do to find such satisfying transformation. I wrote to her telling her this. She replied: “The first thing which sprang to mind when I read your words ‘someone as frozen as you were’ was a brief dream I had when I was first with you. I was standing in front of an enormous iceberg. In my hand was a little ice-pick and I was picking away at this great big berg. How vivid and wonderful. I have never stopped picking away at that berg since.
“This picking away has taken many forms. I have for some time worked with three friends doing explorative counselling work each week. None of us are trained, and we use all sorts of tools such as Reichian and Gestalt work. Through this I have come across much that needed to be made aware in myself, and have had three big traumatic sessions. So big that each time I was ill and had to go to bed for two or three days to recover. During one such session feelings about my religious up-bringing arose. As a teenager I longed and searched for the living spirit. I made the mistake of searching in the Church of England. The phrase comes, ‘I searched for bread and you gave me a stone.’ Kneel down. Stand up. Put your hands thus. Say this. Sing this. Nothing but stones. Such rage erupted from me I began vomiting green bile and kept on for almost two days. “So I continue coming across chunks of stuff like that. I see it as searching for the inner flame of myself. I am no longer living a false self as I did for at least eighteen years of my life. I see that false self as socially imposed – but I accepted it. It was when the pain of living by this false self grew too great that I had to break out and came down to work with you. I have worked at stripping away the false bits and re-building the realer me ever since.”
To allow oneself one needs to learn that no effort is needed, you do not need to seek for anything or meditate on anything. It is like letting yourself go as you drift into sleep. In doing so you are surrendering yourself to Life as it acts in your body. It takes courage and trust because people are deeply convinced that if they do not control themselves awful tings would happen. Isn’t that why we have police, to help us maintain control.
Example: One Friday evening I was very exhausted and was aware that I “should” jolly myself up to be good company and think about dinner, but I didn’t, and the world didn’t fall apart, Rob didn’t get angry or bored or leave me. The next day Rob made a joke that annoyed me and instead of tolerating it I showed what I felt, to which he said “I’m sorry that wasn’t very funny”. I have found these times very self affirming: actually expressing emotion suddenly makes me feel as though I exist.
I guess it’s a process that needs to occur bit by bit: you can’t turn over ingrained belief patterns all at once. The other day my neck tension became very painful and wearing and I felt very demoralised because I thought all my progress” was an illusion. The next day I woke in a state of terror and anxiety but the tension had gone.
“Good,” I thought, “I would rather have the terror”. And I have been trying to keep the terror and investigate it. It is the terror that I will not know how to deal with what life brings, or how to cope, and the resulting emotions will be overwhelming and ultimately blow me apart. So issues of self-trust, but I think that is because I am assuming that I’ll be using my father’s rules. I have to convince myself that if I use my rules, life will be a beach! I suppose one does that bit by bit by being alert to what they are in any situation and honouring them without thought of the consequences. Sarah
The best way to understand this surrender of oneself is to view it as a fuller expression of the body’s natural functions used to balance, maintain and heal itself, such as sneezing, vomiting, crying and laughing. Each person experiences this differently, according to the memories stored in their bodies. Sometimes, this leads to the release of trauma and tensions, and other times it can bring an experience of great joy, connectedness, expansion of awareness and access to dormant potential. See Life’s Little Secrets Here is a woman’s description of her first experience of letting Life move her.
Tony explained to us about letting whatever came, come. I did not understand too well, but lay down with the others and he came to each of us briefly and moved our arms, and left us lying. Perhaps two minutes passed when I felt a distinct twitching around my brow, which was repeated, and then it spread down my face, a downward pressing movement. My face was involved then in a big muscular movement, pressing down, seeming to flatten the face, and then spread down the body towards the feet. Gradually my whole body became involved in big waves of pressing movement which flowed down, lifting and tossing my legs, so that my heels were banging on the floor. Wave succeeded wave. I did as he said, and let it happen, using the skills to relax which I had learnt. I wasn’t afraid, although I couldn’t imagine what was happening to me. Instead I felt happy and elated, warmed through. I knew I had found something of great significance, but it was many months before I could put words to it. It remained an intriguing mystery, like a dropping away of chains, or a touching of promise, while I passed through the pain of divorce. I feel that my experience that day released considerable energy. It did not break my marriage – that would have happened anyway. But I received strength which I used for my needs at that time. Months later it came to me with the force of revelation, that I had been born that day.”
Here are some methods to help you learn the first stages of allowing your inner being to express spontaneously. It is a way of gradually loosening tensions and blockages. But must be practiced several times to really feel your way into it. It is good to try a preparatory exercise first, one to give you a direct experience of spontaneous movement. But it is good to get the feel of something that is easy to do first. A simple way you might be able to learn the beginnings of this it may help to first learn how to yawn spontaneously. You can do this by acting out a few yawns till they come spontaneously. Let them come and let the rest of your body join in if an urge to stretch comes. This is to learn how to recognise and allow your body and feelings to express spontaneously. When you can allow spontaneous yawns and stretches, then try the arm circling. Spontaneous Arm Movement This is a simple and enjoyable technique which gives a direct experience of spontaneous movement.
You need to stand about a foot away from a wall, side on. Start with your right side. You are going to lift your right arm sideways, but because you are near the wall you will only manage to lift it part of the way. So when the back of your hand touches the wall, press it hard against the wall as if trying to complete the movement of lifting the arm. Using a reasonable amount of effort stay with the hand pressing against the wall for about twenty seconds. Then move so you face away from the wall, and with eyes closed relax your arm and be aware of what happens. Try it before reading on, and use the left arm afterwards.
For some people nothing happens. In which case I suggest you loosen your arms by consciously moving them to get your blood circulating, then try again. What we have done is to attempt to make a movement. Because the wall prevented this, the body was not able to complete the movement you asked it to make. Therefore a muscular charge built up in the deltoid muscle. When you stepped away from the wall the arm, if relaxed, was then free to complete the movement. So possibly your arm rose from your side as if weightless, thus discharging its energy. Some people need several tries before they can find the right body feeling to allow the arm its movement. It is easy to prevent it moving because the impulse is quite a subtle one.
The point of the exercise however, is to learn a relationship with oneself in which a subtle impulse can express. The movement the arm makes, and how it feels to experience an un-willed movement, is so similar to LifeStream we are thus provided with an experimental experience of the real thing. Therefore it is helpful either to practice the technique until you can do it, or use it a number of times to establish your relationship with the feeling of it. This sense of allowing movement can then be used in LifeStream itself. Arm Circling Movement
For the next exercise you need sufficient floor space to move easily, or even lie full length if necessary. It also helps to have loose clothing.. You start by standing in the middle of your floor space, giving yourself time to explore what you feel and experience. Start by circling your arms. Take the arms above the head, down the sides of the body fairly slowly, with the arms fully extended, then upward crossing the front of the trunk. In the full movement the hands are then forming wide circles that cross the front of your body.
This arm circling is simply to help you learn how to allow spontaneous movement. It is a way of working with the natural forces within you. So, as you are circling your arms with eyes closed, bring your awareness to the shapes your hands are making in space. As you become aware of the shapes the hands are carving in space, watch what feelings you have as to how you would like to move. Give yourself permission to doodle, to make any sort of shapes your feelings or body incline you to.
Allow any sort of posture or movement, as active or quiet as you like. If they arise, allow sounds to accompany the movements, and allow whatever feelings accompany them. Hold the attitude that what you are doing doesn’t have to make sense. Nor does it have to comply with what other people might expect of you. Realise that you are allowing another part of yourself, perhaps a non verbal part, or a facet unknown to the rational mind, to express. With a non critical watching attitude, relax and let your body and feeling sense direct what happens. There is no need to fiercely concentrate in order to wipe the mind clear of other influences. But you may need to relax the part of the mind that always needs to know beforehand what you are going to do.
This is not like creative dance, in which there may exist a need to produce something pleasing for others to watch. With this exercise you need an open area in which your inner being can make its own adjustments, and movement and feeling has a chance to express outside of rational criticism and demands of everyday life. Give yourself at least fifteen minutes in which to explore what spontaneous movements and feelings emerge. Below is a summary of what may happen in this practice. Although the movements may at first appear haphazard and irrational, if you allow them to continue without criticism, they usually express – perhaps only over a period of several sessions – a particular theme or point.
Like a dream, the theme or drama often symbolises your life situation, or something within you, such as the remaining emotions or attitudes from past experience, or a creative realisation. Or the movements may be expressive of the body’s own need to release energy or mobilise itself and its urges. There are obvious stages or depths to the experience. Movement is often the first. Feelings and fantasy can then combine with the movement. Only with a few people do they occur without each other.
If met in the right way the movements, fantasy and sounds can lead to insight into what is being expressed. In other words the symbolic movements, if that is what they are, can give way to rational understanding. This is not because one has thought out a plausible explanation for what happens. It is because your critical, conscious mind has watched the spontaneous working of what usually only occurs in dreams while you are unconsciousness. This gives automatic feedback to the unconscious mind and it can speed up it processing and problem solving. A communication takes place between the unconscious and conscious mind. See How it Flows
If what emerges is symbolic then it is helpful to ask the spontaneous process to clarify what it represents. The first time this happened to me I didn’t understand that the movements were symbols. I experienced creating a huge world which was so heavy it crushed me, pushing me to the floor and paralysed me. Slowly I gained strength, stood up and threw off the world. It was three months later, as I was describing the experience to a friend that realisation hit me like a wonderful insight. The world I had created was one made up of religious rules that in fact had made me ill trying to live them by controlling everything. The spontaneous Life Process in me had given me the strength to see them and cast them off.