Suffering, Purpose, Meaning

As Spring emerges, I sort through dreams, fears, and visions for my work and art.

On Smoking

10422067_1159666304047833_6949466048658642387_nI’ve been fantasizing a lot about smoking again, turning on my e-cig but no battery, dreaming of buying the tobacco to make my own cigs, but then giving it away to homeless people. There is something compelling about it that comes up when I’m on the thresholds of bigger feelings, and also links to my rebellious Fuck-you spirit. Something about rolling up the herb, creating and then destroying it, making smoke and smell and light. Breathing it in. And of course the addictive attributes. I like the small cycles of tease and control, even as it is an illusionary control because really you are binding yourself up to a plant, altering your brain and body.

The draw to smoke got worse since I declared “giving up nicotine” was one of the only real achievements I’ve done in the last year. There is an element of trickster here.

I associate smoking with progress forward, claiming my own self in the world, but it also has a deep tie in to my desire to destroy myself; the shadow of my joy.

Grief and Frustration

I saw a client yesterday, and she sat at the end of the treatment with tears of grief and frustration pouring silently down her face. I hadn’t been able to ‘fix’ her rib, but I did encourage a general opening up and I saw a slight movement in her sternum, the beginnings of an opening. I’m reflective though. She dances, has expressed and cried a lot, screamed even, and yet there is still this lump of emotion inside – and frustration of “when will it all be gone?”

the-crucifixion-3The best I could do was to witness her and to state that, perhaps there is a never ending well of grief to feel, just as there is of joy. She understand this too but at the end of the day the physical reality breaks through the metaphysics : something in her ribs (I suspect a muscle strain) hurts every time she breathes in. And it IS frustrating and tiring and can not be ignored. And I couldn’t just “click” it back into place and fix it. Which has brought clarity to a question – what IS it I am doing here, and why? If I COULD just magically fix things, become some expert technician, would that even be satisfying? Or would it just lock me into a constant approval-loop?

The surface level doesn’t satisfy, so I need to go deeper.

I love Hearing Stories

Something I enjoy and gain satisfaction from is hearing, witnessing, unravelling the stories of someone’s bodies. The case history is a rich and satisfying part of the process. If I can bring helpful, new perspective– this is valid, and useful. But once again there is the art to learn of “asking the right questions” – I want to draw the truth out of people, to see them make the connections, to see that perhaps, they are at their limits because they expect or do too much, without enough care and love. Or to see specific parts of their habits and patterns – transformation through awareness. This is a MBS/Feldenkrais and Alchemical principle : become aware of what you are doing, first, then step beyond the habits, and from that the system can reorganise itself – this takes trust.

I really hate this concept of “fixing people’s hurt” — and I struggle with it too, because of a deep insecurity of not being able to do it. I do know – I can do beautiful massage and caring touch, and my sense is that listening touch is healing touch. We have enough of being pushed and prodded and demanded on. Can I make a space for something else? However, stepping out of “goal focused fix it mentality” means stepping out of a big part of society habit — and it’s not enough to deny what I’m not. What is I am doing instead?

I can’t be half-hearted any more – I need to fully be the true thing that I am. To know what I am looking for, and stand behind it.

Bringing Beauty

A concept that’s been emerging through my explorations with a chiropractor is – what if we could just say that our joy and goal is “bringing more beauty” to a person?

I’ve begun to permit this, and it excites me. My secret focus becomes that of Artist not Technician – and what I want to see is more beauty emerging, to see people leaving more beautiful than when they arrived. It almost feels like sculpting little aspects of reality and sending them back out into the world.

"Beauty is to be found anywhere, and in unexpected places. The works of Sebastião Salgado or Don McCullin, for example, prove this. Their subject may be enormous suffering or horror, but their message is all the stronger, more memorable and poignant for being delivered beautifully. " more here
“Beauty is to be found anywhere, and in unexpected places. The works of Sebastião Salgado or Don McCullin, for example, prove this. Their subject may be enormous suffering or horror, but their message is all the stronger, more memorable and poignant for being delivered beautifully. ” more here

 

Beauty and Truth go together. From the goal of beauty-bringing, my crying client was success, and witnessing her tears quietly and humbly, seeing her open raw and naked truth — actually I didn’t feel that I failed, I felt like I wanted to see more. I wanted to see her chest open and her whole body express her feeling…and I wanted even more to see her just give up and surrender. And also – to bring more structure, to channel the frustration into action, to begin to ask, what do you want more of?

Transmuting Relationship 

I got into healing work to fix pain. Then I escaped from pain by looking to promote pleasure. These two things are poles from which a transcendent comes – and that has something to do with a new relationship with body, self and world. To really inhabit self whilst holding clear vision, to claim creative authority whilst surrendering control. To be fiercely gentle with self and learn how to care for and defend what is important.

I have spent years now crying and grieving about not being a mother, and somewhere in that is rich lesson. I found eventually that some hurts can not be released, some scars will always stay, some grief is endless and we can choose to fill our life with those feelings. No amount of cathartic expression alone will truly “fix” or end the suffering. At some point we have to decide how to choose and create what is good and valuable for us. To simultaneously mourn for what is not and also embrace what could be. It is a mythic journey.

Trying to fix the hurts of the world – is endless, and perhaps pointless from a big scheme view of things. I wanted to fix pain when I was a naive 20 year old, and the reason was because I thought that philosophy and theology and mind questions were pointless if you were hurting – that the pain would get in the way and addressing it was more important and urgent than embracing life. Then I saw that people just didn’t want to be in their bodies, because why be in bodies when they are full of hurt, trauma and emotional residue and junk? I saw that people didn’t know how to feel pleasure, to open to it, to let themselves be filled by it and transformed by it. So I focused on that instead. It was fun and exciting but ultimately unsatisfying because I had dissolved myself completely in the waters of pleasure and had no real identity outside of archtypes.

Now,  I feel the beginnings of crystallization from that solution.

If I’m not fixing pain or bringing pleasure, what is the purpose of my art/work?

Ultimately I have to chose something that is meaningful to me. 

I enjoy – seeing people become more present, more beautiful, more artful, more sort of IN their life and seeing the connections between action, feeling. Breaking the chains of habit and bringing new possibility. Encouraging creativity and sexuality although not focusing on it? better relationship between self and others? What do I love so much about the Feldenkrais? That it changes people through education, self knowledge, and giving them new connections to themselves. Lessons to demonstrate that what is fucking us up and limiting us is not from some external authority, to be fixed by some other external authority, but going on inside us. AND that means it is UP TO US but also AVAILABLE to us to do do something about it. 

summary of thoughts/passions – what do I seek in my art/work?

  • Bringing more Beauty
  • Hearing the stories and unravelling the habits
  • Transmuting new possibilities
  • The truth of self-possession, self awareness, and self responsibility

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"There's nothing you can do that's more important than being fulfilled. You become a sign, you become a signal, transparent to transcendence; in this way, you will find, live, and become a realization of your own personal myth." – Joseph Campbell

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    Catherine Wildfox Written by:

    I'm a woman who is passionate about people claiming healthy, vital living on their own terms. I help people reconnect with and trust in their instinctive wild self & body - this is the key to making health changes that are enjoyable and sustained.

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