Self love and breathwork
With quite a frenetic pace set by the turn of the new year, there's been little time or space to actually consider much of an orientation for 2019. This is something like a diary entry that might help me organise the architecture of my own perception, to work on the efficacy of my semantic network at letting more love into the world through my own being.
It's actually pretty easy to feel exhausted thinking about this. And there's been quite some back and forth within about goals vs flow. Should you take aim and move toward something? Or should you follow the cosmos and let it put you in it's divine place? I haven't reached many definitive conclusions on this, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. One thing I've noticed for sure though, without anything to be done or something to aim at and haphazardly stumble towards, the capacity for stagnation is alive and well within me. Like if there's an easy way out I'll take it. I've observed how I work in that way.
And so the implementation of structure and discipline, like to aim at something and with some kind of anchored practice seems to be an essential part of what feeds me with positive emotion. Maybe that thing is simpler than I've been making it, it could be something like love, self-full love, as a default. Even if the idea sounds contrived and dangerously close to hippy shit. There aren't a lot of other great options, least not as great as that, and I've been around the block enough times trying the alternatives, wailing out to be saved and the like. The terrible terrifying truth is, it might actually be up to me. Which is horrible, because I know exactly what I'm like and I could easily fuck that up, so why even bother to look for the courage to try? Well, how about to not continue towards deeper and more profound hells? Is the pain of actual hell worse than the pain of a sincere attempt and possible failure to move away from it? Nobody who's not numb to the pain of hell they're in would say that. But god knows I've lived enough loops as if it wasn't. Is whatever it is I've done, or they've done worth not loving myself the best I can over? Considering that the act of not doing so brings me and everyone I'm connected to and care about one step closer to hell. Hell has a strong gravity, and it makes a very convincing argument, it takes a good amount of courage to take a step away from. So this could be a key question to ask at choice moments of self loathing. And then follow it up with; What would loving myself mean I ought do next in this moment?
Often though in order to do something good for myself, It's almost like I have to trick myself into lurching into something that it would be more painful to escape from than stay in, then once I'm in it, I tend to make the best of it. I usually deal with it way better than I think I will, then it picks up momentum. Motivation can be hard if it's not driven by necessity. It seems a face to face confrontation with the abyss can be sufficiently motivating. There's some sense in voluntarily exposing yourself to the genuine horrors of the world, either your own or other peoples, perhaps daily, at least at first until the new circuits get trained in, without turning to the numbing agents that keep them at bay. It's that act of exposure, voluntary vulnerability, that allows painful truths to give you a sense of where you could end up (or back at, if you're numbing out your past) if you don't pay attention.
You can use exposure to the horrors of the embodied world then to shed your victim mask, maybe your situation is not as bad as those in Auschwitz, Soviet Gulags, or Camp 22. Maybe people have made it through worse than what you're going through. And maybe you too could draw on that resource of the human spirit. Like, thank god you are where you are, because wherever that is, there's always somewhere worse, and there's always something you could and would do to help things deteriorate if you're not paying attention. Look below, so you can further use that to leverage humility and gratitude towards where you actually are, and then look up with a vow to love that position into where you might be. That's something you could do. It's an actual brain circuit and response you can train in. If you were so inclined. The pain of it might be terrible, but the pain of not doing it might be way more terrible. Increased sensitivity and ever waking eyes can actually be tremendously painful. Especially when you're in the business of turning that towards yourself.
Being awake to not being who you think you are is horrible and necessary. But at least then you're awake to who you actually are, and then there's something that might able to be done about that.
So once you know the horror of what might happen if you don't pay careful attention to yourself and the the extended environment of you, and aren't doing what you can to love that better, then you can really begin to feel motivation to start paying attention to your behaviour and let that reveal your true values, and not the ones you're always mouthing off about.
Maybe I'm more driven by sex, money and people pleasing than I'd like to think. So what the hell should I do about something as horrible as that? Well, is it worth not loving myself over, moving me and the people I'm intertwined and networked with towards hell? If I was acting as if I was somebody I cared about, what ought be done next that someone like me could manage?
Caring what people think
I care too much about what people think about me. Yea well, maybe. But why shouldn't you care about that? Paying attention to that might provide key insights as to what you think about yourself. The jabs that niggle. Maybe they're packed with essential information. Maybe you don't actually want to know that though, it's way too brutal to bear. So is that then maybe a new frontier of your selfishness? Because what you think about yourself is what you act out in the world, it's not only how you treat yourself, which affects others anyway, but it's how you end up treating others. Unaware and asleep at the wheel, you're either victimising yourself, and attempting to manipulate through guilt, or you're tyrannising someone else and attempting to manipulate through intimidation. The victim and the tyrant are two sides of the same coin. Whichever side you prefer to occupy, you're the one keeping the damn thing spinning. This is a very painful thing to know in the race-to-the-bottom victim culture we've been nurturing. It's like we compete for who can be the most wronged by the world. You know when you enter those kinds of conversations because you can feel your energy levels drop, if you decide to be aware of that. You might observe the way you speak to notice which language patterns you use to keep the whole thing afloat. Or you could also be attuned to the way people react to what you say and do. Particularly those who's opinions you hold with a degree of reverence, or those opinions that cause you the most discomfort. It's likely they're the ones that hold the thing that you're trying not to know that you know. Which is probably the thing you need to know the most.
And so maybe that's a good enough reason to care about and seek to know what people actually think about you. Your environment and the people in it are constantly giving you feedback on how to liver better for you and everyone else all the time. If you don't pay attention to that feedback you might well be blindly malingering towards a cliff edge. The environment might swallow you, and it will be your fault. And other people's burden of responsibility to clean up the mess you've become. That's why the courage to give and receive painfully honest feedback is an actual blessing. At least then you can begin to feel your way toward what the truth behind the truth might be.
So is caring too much what people think about you worth not loving yourself over? Be mindful of your answer, it doesn't just affect you.
Hating yourself takes no courage at all. It's lazy and self indulgent. The worst villains in history are the ones with the least amount of courage to make a concerted attempt and vigilant practice at loving what they were. You ought to practice figuring out how to love yourself well, not only for everyone else's sake. And not in a superiorly arrogant way which is a thin, resentful and indulgent mask for insecurity, which you might hate, but for the sake of you and everybody need to figure out how to love. Is any of that worth not loving yourself for, given what's at stake?
And it might be terribly painful, but making an honest go of loving yourself enough to feel the pain and bitter distaste of authentic hatred without turning it inwards or projecting it outwards takes a hell of a lot of courage. And practice. That could be something like the pathway to heroism. And what better thing do you have to do here than relentlessly practice at being the hero of your own journey?
So what the hell does any of this have to do with breathwork? Well, I don't exactly know, but probably a lot. At least amongst other things, it's through en embodied practice of self-love; breathwork, exercise and daily exposure to terrible cold showers, that I seem able to cut through a good deal of the mental nonsense of myself (which is expansive and deep) to something that might be reality. It's almost like, the shock to the system brings you right onto the ground exactly where you are, jolts you to life and puts you in the body. Reset button. Which is where you get another chance to be effective in thought observation and cultivation. Does it have to be that intense? Maybe not, it probably depends on the density of mind that precedes it. But cold showers are also hella good for your immune system, general health and mental wellbeing. So that seems like it would be a loving thing to do. Not just for you, acting as if you were someone you cared about, but if you're into people pleasing, martyrdom, care-taking and putting everyone else's oxygen mask on first, try this for leverage; "Stop being so bloody selfish and look after your damn health, mental and physical, before it makes someone you love bitter and resentful by becoming their terrible burden." Fair enough things happen and everyone needs help. and it can be good for everyone to give and receive help, but extend that to yourself first, that you might be useful to others. Because if you haven't at least made a sincere attempt at stumbling toward the courage to love yourself enough to do what you can to pre-empt that, you will know you've contributed to a situation you could have avoided, your vulnerability to guilt will be high, their susceptibility to resentment will be high, and there's a potential for the situation to spiral. And laws of momentum are hard things to recover from.
The practice of thought leverage and these techniques, whether it's deep energising breaths to take on something intense, or calming belly breaths to activate my parasympathetic nervous system when I'm too lost in mental noise, or even breath holding when I need to detox (particularly effective for sinuses I've found), working with breath has given me extra efficacy when dealing with the waves.
Another practice I've been thinking about a lot is making things beautiful. We like beautiful things. We like the idea of a relationship with beauty. We might try to make our environment beautiful. We might try tidying up, cleaning, putting things in order. There's a simple love in that kind of act. And an underlying truth in beauty as a pathway to divinity. Maybe sometimes we don't want to extend that to ourselves though. We'd become too vulnerable, we might make an attempt and fail, because we have no taste. We don't want to face the shame and humiliation of that. But why not? It would take courage. I think about this deeply as I site here in my bobbled tracksuit bottoms looking somewhat like an upmarket hobo. Maybe the real reason I don't want to attempt to make myself beautiful is that it would feel fake, incongruous to things I'm avoiding knowing I believe about myself. I would be exposed to criticism. So perhaps it's my ego that is frightened of being hurt, instead of my preferred cover of, I'm just too cool to care.
There's something in it for others too. When I make myself look beautiful, but genuinely beautiful, not superficially beautiful, when I wear clothes that fit, and are not terribly uncomfortable, that help me radiate, something pleasant to look at in the environment. The environment becomes more pleasant as a result, and then perhaps that inspires people make more of an effort to maintain their immediate environment as an extension of themselves. And where might that lead if everyone did that? Everyone putting in sincere attempts to care for themselves and their immediate environment enough to make it beautiful? Well. It might be quite good. You attempt at making your environment beautiful but not yourself? Why not extend that kind of care to the source? Eat well enough to make yourself up of functional, beautiful cellular material.
Resentful, cynical and insecure people could see that as shallow, competitive and superficial. I know I've had that bent. Because proximity to real beauty, and the love that's gone into its cultivation over time, accentuates everything in you that's ugly. That's why we're so afraid of it. It's not to say that beauty is only physical, that WOULD be superficial, plenty of encounters with people who's soul simply radiates have helped me clear that up. And maybe there is a wave of obsession for only that kind of superficiality in a trend of instagramtastic narcissism. But maybe that's too cynical a way to think about it. In what universe is it that the physical and ethereal are separate?
I recently discovered an old high school friends Instagram account, he's into photography and shoots beautiful women. I noticed a conflict between the bitter internal feminist who wanted to shame-bully another part of me that felt a genuine appreciation and pleasure for the physical beauty of the women he was capturing on film. It threw up all kinds of attacks about the degradation of women, turning them into sex objects etc. Which fair enough, isn't an unreasonable thing to shout about, give the very real dangers that can lead to. Honestly though, I just found them really beautiful to look at. And I liked that. Is that really worth not loving myself over?
I also then considered the objectification of men, into success objects, which seems to be a less discussed tandem topic. And so then went a little further into my own fear about that. Because what if I'm not as successful as I could be to find a good place in the hierarchies of competence and beauty that govern our society? Well. That was the underlying fear driving potential resentment of the beautiful and successful, and refusal to participate in that, and even to actively work to destroy what's there. And so should I then let that bitterness develop into a desire and campaign to make things worse for those that enjoy what they've been given? Maybe I could hate the successful and the beautiful because they point out in me everything I don't like about myself, and my fears of failing at competition with them. Because on a biological level something like that that probably screams death.
Would that be self love?
Or say is an honest recognition of the gap between where I am and where I've desired to be, enough of a reason to not love myself, given what's at stake?
Maybe I could leverage a bit of humility, look down, and then look up, working across multiple dimensions to love what I am and its extensions of the world, to make it beautiful, in feeling and presentation, so that path to divinity can be communicated, recognised and transmitted through all energetic and biological circuits available. Perhaps that would be a meaningful and worthwhile pursuit.
Making yourself beautiful might go against your fundamental belief that you're not worthy of the effort to make yourself beautiful. And that would suck, especially if you're into authenticity. But maybe in attempting to do so, you send out a message that you and the extension of you, embodied as environment are WORTH attempting to make beautiful. And worth going through pain, humiliation of judgement and effort to maintain that relationship with divinity. And maybe that's a message worthy of transmission.
The last workshop I did I brought out some graphics I put together outlining some bits and pieces about the breath, and what I've learned so far, and how I've been conceptualising it.
Here's the first; it outlines the different types of breath I've been using and their effect.
The second is actually a model used by Dan Brule, International breathwork expert, it concerns what he considers the three pillars of breathwork and how they combine together in a formula that can bring the user deep peace of mind, clarity and purpose. In some ways it seems obvious. But then again, most of the really important stuff is. It's just easy to forget in our ADD environment.
These are by no means comprehensive, like most things, once you get under the surface, you find out just how expansive the field of breathwork is, how many different ways there are to breathe and the kinds of effects they have. This is only what I've been working with and finding useful over the years I've been practicing.
I did my best to have these graphics explain themselves but would be interested to hear feedback and questions on anything that seems inexplicable.
Anyway, this year's all about the love.
So happy breathing all.