'Existential nihilism is the philosophical theory that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. With respect to the universe, existential nihilism suggests that a single human or even the entire human species is insignificant, without purpose and unlikely to change in the totality of existence. According to the theory, each individual is an isolated being born into the universe, barred from knowing "why", yet compelled to invent meaning.'
It's easy to be a Nihilist. Not take responsibility for anything and complain about the world. I've been there, done that. In fact in my late twenties my career plan was to drink more red wine and maybe build a shack in the back blocks and drink more red wine as my levels of cynicism peaked.
But in the back of my mind, I knew that was a self-deceit which was trying to cheat my soul's reasons for being here on the planet. And though t came down to me...'there has to more to life than than this dead-end'.
Soon after that in about the year 2000 I went along to a massage in Canberra. Half through I suddenly felt flushed with heat, then I just burst into tears and sobbing uncontrollably for what seemed a long time. The massage therapist excused herself when this started and I mumbled that I would be okay. Then it clicked. My underlying anxiety was locked up in my nervous system. Somehow this massage therapist unlocked long held emotional tension in my musculature.
I eventually hauled myself off the table, paid the masseur and sat under a big gum tree for some time feeling very clear and soft in my body. What became clear to me was that my own damned up trauma has somehow been released and that this was the true beginning of my healing journey.
There was more to my existence than thinking that life was generally meaningless. This set me on the path toward Bodywork and Breathwork.
'History Never Repeats' was a hit pop song on the radio of my late childhood. The next part of the lyric was 'I tell myself before I go to sleep' hinting at the rising fear inside that History Does Repeat.
As I flit over the news and other media about 'the chaos to come' and the rising tide of intolerance and bellicose grandstanding, I'm always flabbergasted about our need to be right about ideas.
If I ask myself or another, what is the point of great conceptual ideas if you have to make other humans' lesser than you.
As soon as I step out of 'being right' and 'making others wrong', there is more room in my heart for more empathy, even if I'm seething with anger in that moment.
People's wings will take flight if the conditions around them are not threatening.
I WAS STRUCK BY THIS SCULPTURE after reading an article about right-wing protests in eastern Germany (Chemnitz). The artist was making a point about wolves hunting in packs. Despite cultures pretensions about civility, intense survival instincts still break out when aroused by fear (e.g. activating that part of the brain called the amygdala, or more informally the lizard brain). So any concerted effort to instill fear in us about the 'other' or 'the devil' can really ignite passions and in lightning speed. Combine that with strong ideas about race and national identity and presto! You have an excuse to dehumanise and do harm to others. I don't for a moment pretend that I don't have this lizard brain in myself, but any acting out is kept in check by an awareness that I COULD become a perpetrator.
This is the essence of why we should bother turning toward our pain/shadow/unloved aspects of ourselves - to decrease the likelihood of it breaking out uncontrollably under pressure of propoganda or environmental stress.
Technology and being 'smart' won't change it. We can however bio-hack it with powerful modalities like Breathwork and Bio-Energetics. There practices elicit strong emotional responses which help diffuse mind-body tension. More room for love and grace then appears. And god we need that now more than ever.
Just been examining the idea of freedom recently in the media, in particular an article by Jeff Sparrow in the Guardian.
Freedom is such a misnomer in our society. I have the right to choose many things, but I cannot choose to easily escape my own prisons of the mind / soul. Am I trapped in my own gilded gold cage? Is a life of comfort diminishing my senses? Diminishing my choices?
The thirst for a non-ordinary state of consciousness springs from my desire to 'escape' the mundane. Hence we also have the desire for men to fight in wars - to escape the banal realities of modern western suburban life. Some soldiers will return, not with PTSD, but with a memory that the war zone was the highest peak experience of their life - a chance to lead a truly heroic life.
Our efforts at peace in the world need to take account of such desires in the male psyche. Yes we can have peace, but we must make room for heroic journey's, not just in Harry Potter books, but to construct those opportunities in our social worlds.
This then opens whole new ways of living - gradually replacing the technocratic with story - telling and the hero's journey.
Why do we become withdrawn? Energy can ebb and flow in life, sometimes it's better to go toward the within, rather than resist it. Sometimes layers of unexpressed energy can condense and make us feel very dense and heavy. This is where using dynamic breathing styles such as charkra breathing and fast movement can help break through this density. As the life force flows, we can make more room for those feelings of lightness of being.
Our next retreat is called 'The Hunger for Ecstasy' : some thoughts from Jalaja Bonheim -
" I wholeheartedly disagree with those who condemn desire an an obstacle to spiritual evolution. In my opinion, advising people to renounce their desires does them a serious disservice.
First, it simply doesn't work. I have witnessed at least a dozen spiritual organisations destroyed by sexual scandal. In every case, those involved were desperately maintaining the pretense of having transcended desire. Wherever desire is scorned, hypocrisy and deceit abound. Moreover in rejecting desire, we reject one of our greatest spiritual teachers. My own experience has convinced me tat f you follow your desire, it will take you on a journey, in the course of which you will gain immense wisdom, strength and compassion".
Life is a journey, or so they say around here. But what if life is a series of deaths and rebirths, not a linear travel event?
I am often struck by how many time I get caught up in " if I just finish this next bit of challenging work / dullness / difficulty, then my life will be 'on the right track'.
Instead, I find it more empowering to go along the lines of 'that part of my life is now decreased and now I have been re-born into something else which I am navigating with grace'!
So here we are finding ourselves in 2016 and wondering what lies in store for us. Sitting round the campfire at my New Years camp the conversations ranged far and wide - one of them about universal love. So how does that really apply down here on Earth? It doesn't look so great when I look too close at the human condition. So how can I find the light on the hill? How do I overcome cynicism and despair about the world? Universal love can seem a very abstract concept at times. Breathwork is a tool to help unlock the doors of perception into worlds which are less divided, less separate, less isolating.
According to Johann Hari, author of 'Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs',
'Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live - constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.
The writer George Monbiot has called this "the age of loneliness." We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before.... for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery - how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.'
Inspired Breath retreats provide the setting for us to truly connect to ourselves and each other.
Just going through some older notes - these two paragraphs nail why Breathwork can reset our nervous systems to receive more pleasure and less dreariness.
Expansion and the Capacity to Experience Pleasure
by Maryanna Eckberg
'A survival mode of functioning results in construction on the body and in the experience and activity of shock trauma, resulting in a diminished capacity for pleasure. Over-stimulation of the nervous system makes it difficult to let down into a relaxed parasympathetic state necessary for pleasurable activities. Fixation on the traumas – all roads lead to the trauma – due to over-coupling and to state-dependent memory also contributes to a pleasureless existence.
Helping people to develop their sensory awareness is not only essential in renegotiating the integrating the traumatic experiences, but is also the avenue to expansion into a more pleasurable mode of existence.'
Rising In Love. What does it mean? It means having the courage to face the shadow of ourselves, rather than projecting our wish fulfillment onto our partner or new flame. It means weeding out self sabotage and building intimacy with our internal landscape. It doesn't mean making ourselves perfect. We rise in awareness of our capacity to love our 'everything'. Everything that brought us to this point in time. As the Breathwork we do on this retreat takes us deeper, there is no final point at which we have arrived, rather it's a discovery of how to connect with our bliss when all our barriers come down. As the barriers come down, love rises.