I was recently sent this poem by Mevlana Jal-al-ud-Din Muhammad Rumi, the Persian Sufi mystic, poet and founder of the Mevlevi Order, the Whirling Dervishes. Thanks to Dr Angela McKenzie, who works with Reverse Therapy in Melbourne, for finding it for us. The translation is by Coleman Barks.
Two Kinds of Intelligence
There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired, as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts from books and from what the teacher says, collecting information from the traditional sciences as well as from the new sciences.
With such intelligence you rise in the world. You get ranked ahead or behind others in regard to your competence in retaining information. You stroll with this intelligence in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more marks on your preserving tablets.
There is another kind of tablet, one already completed and preserved inside you. A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness in the center of the chest. This other intelligence does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid, and it doesn’t move from outside to inside through the conduits of plumbing-learning.
This second knowing is a fountainhead from within you, moving out.
This poem gets to the core of how we see the difference between cleverness and intelligence in Reverse Therapy. Cleverness is intellectual knowledge, which we acquire first in school and add to as we store information about the way things work in whatever we end up specializing in doing. Rumi says that personal intellect (Headmind) can take someone to the doctor but it can’t get him well. To get well, to be truly alive, to know God we must rely on another kind of intelligence. Rumi gives this a number of names – Love, Intelligence, the Angel, Wisdom, the Fountainhead – and he sees it working through the Heart, the Body, the Soul and personal Mind. It is fascinating to learn that Rumi was the founder of the Whirling Dervishes – a Sufi order which relies on music and dance in order to prepare for union with the divine. The intense, ecstatic, complicated dance rituals almost entirely drown out Headmind and leave the Dervish open to the Angel. Rumi spent most of his life combating the dry, academic, nit-picking approach to philosophy that was around in his day in the 13th century Ottoman empire. He was famous for his simple, direct, personal, grounded approach to enlightenment. And that is why his poetry is becoming increasingly popular in the West now.
You can read some more quotes from Rumi on this link here.
I actually found it hard to write something about this topic….nothing I ever wrote seemed quite right so I had to keep re-working what I wrote until it sounded ok…again and again…and it still isn’t right…..Seriously, the real reason I found it hard to write about this subject was that it takes me into an area in which it becomes hard to distinguish between Bodymind-generated emotions and Headmind-generated obsessions. So, thanks to one of my readers for suggesting this subject, you have stimulated me to work harder at making these distinctions clearer. And the result will be that I am going to write a series of blogs about pseudo-emotions like:
The first thing to get clear about is the difference between an emotion and an obssession.An emotion is a signal sent by Bodymind to let us know that it is time for action, in the moment, on something that is bothering us. So, for example, fear signals come up when we are in danger or are vulnerable in some way. Typically, fear is a powerful, visceral emotion that prompts us for immediate action.An obsession is not an emotion although like a lot of other states (resentment, despair, worry) it can feel like one. Partly this is because obsessions are mixed up with emotions created by Bodymind, partly also because they tend to come with the state of anxiety.An obsession comes about because Headmind is worried about something. In the case of perfectionism the worry is that the person can never get it right and will therefore be criticised, rejected and hurt. The basis for this problem is conditioning. Somewhere along the way the child’s Headmind picked up the script ‘No matter how hard you try you will never be good enough’. A lot of people blame the Parents for scripts like these although, in my experience, Teachers and Priests are often the real culprits.The pity of it all is that there is absolutely no need for anyone to worry about having to get it all right. If you are out of your depth on something then Bodymind will trigger the fear signal to tell you to go and ask a few questions or get some help. But this is precisely what is disallowed by Headmind – the Perfectionist cannot ask for help because that would be to admit failure – imperfection. So he has to do it all by himself.In later life Headmind keeps playing these scripts every time a new challenge comes up. So each time the person settles down to do some work Headmind triggers the worry first, and then the obsession with ‘getting it all perfect’. With the sub-script – ‘work harder, you miserable failure’. That can get very scary. But each time Fear is created to remind us to get some help that is interpreted by Headmind as fresh evidence that the person is ‘imperfect’ triggering the script all over again.Now, if you spend too long doing the same thing over and over again then Bodymind is going to create the emotion known as frustration. That will be prompting you to give yourself a break. But when Headmind notices frustration coming up, it misinterprets that as fresh evidence of failure. So the script gets triggered again, and again and again.I will write more about the solution to perfectionism and other obsessional states in a later blog. But the first step towards breaking free of the trap is to disobey the script, own up to being ‘a failure’ and go and have some fun instead.
When I was a child Death terrified me. When the elderly next-door neighbor who used to give me sweets died I asked my father what had happened to her. Reluctantly he mumbled that she had gone and wouldn’t be coming back.
‘Well, where is she now?”.
‘Up there’ he said, his finger pointing to the ceiling.
Even at six years old I was smart enough to realise that living in the clouds couldn’t be much fun. So I persisted with the interrogation.
‘Does everyone die, Daddy?’.
‘Yes – everyone. Everyone.’
From then, for quite a few years, I thought about it a lot. How could people just vanish? It seemed ridiculous. I would walk home from school and look at all the grave-stones in the cemetery. Here so-and-so had died in 1887. There a child had died in 1909. Over there, her grave surmounted by a huge, sorrowing angel, someone else had gone in 1956 – the year I was born. Once they had lived and breathed and loved – now nothing.
I mention this experience because it sums up the common dread of death: that we shall be nothing at all at some point in the future.
Let us leave aside whether or not there is an after-life. As it happens I believe there is an after-life, although not the one some people imagine, where we carry on as somehow the same person. But that is irrelevant. Because even the after-life, too, will have to come to an end at some point in the future. And then we – that is the person we are now – will most definitely come to an end
This problem is in fact entirely created by Headmind and the Ego. The worry is that this unique, ‘special’, person that I am will cease to be. That the world should not and must not continue without me.
The cemeteries are full of indispensable people – many of whom got there earlier than they needed to by trying to prove that the world could not do without them.
The solution lies in grasping that our terror of death only exists through a hallucination. The fiction is that we will go from life to death, from something to nothingness.
But when we are truly alive – right now – we know that we are a part of everything and that something lives through us that can never die. You can call that God, or the Divine, or Spirit but those are only names. You have to experience it to know it. And you experience it in moments of love, joy, awe, ecstasy and excitement.
Here are some examples from my own experience:
- Watching my children being born
- Kindness from a friend when I was at my lowest ebb
- Diving off the rocks into the Aegean sea at sunset
- Looking at Giotto’s paintings of the life of Christ in Padua
- Realising that Reverse Therapy was ‘my mission’
- Watching a healer at work in Brazil
In such experiences we know – through Bodymind – that something very powerful works in, and for, and through, us. And that something never dies. Only Headmind, and the ego, dies.
‘Nothing burns in hell except self-will.’
1. Stop looking for ‘cures’. The more you look for cures which fail the more focused you will be on your illness. The solution for Chronic Fatigue syndrome is right here on the Reverse Therapy website and it contains all the information you will ever need on how to be well.
2. Stop pacing. There is no evidence that pacing works. The reason it seems to work is because people are changing activities, not reducing them. Bodymind likes change so it turns down the symptoms when more variety is introduced. That’s especially true if what you were doing before was a chore.
3. Stop talking about symptoms. The more you talk about the symptoms the more trapped you will get in the illness loop. Bodymind wants you to talk about getting well, not staying ill!
4. Stop using M.E. Chat Forums and M.E. Support Groups. All you will ever meet are other people who are focused on illness. What’s more, some users are so trapped in suffering that they create negative energy which gets passed on to you. If you have made friends in a forum or a group then meet them elsewhere.
5. Stop withdrawing from people close to you. Your Body doesn’t create symptoms because it wants you to give up your life. It uses them to signal that its time to create a better way of life. And that includes spending more time with your friends and those you love.
6. Stop listening to medical doctors. With some exceptions (such as the wonderful medics we have on the Reverse Therapy team!) most medical doctors do not understand M.E. Either they don’t believe it exists or – if they do treat it as a real illness – they don’t know what to do about it. Either way you will just get frustrated.
7. Stop thinking ‘I will never get well’ and, instead, focus on what you need to do to in order to become just that. If you don’t know what to do then try doing anything that raises endorphins if you notice symptoms on the increase.
8. Stop waiting for the symptoms to go. Many of our clients have fallen into the trap of thinking ‘once these horrible symptoms go I can get my life back’. In fact the reverse is true: once you go back to an emotionally rewarding life, Bodymind can switch off the symptoms.
9. Stop living in the past, dwelling on all the times you have been miserable, ill and depressed. Instead, learn to live in the moment, being directed by what your personal Bodymind wants you to do right now.
10. Stop worrying about the future. The future is simply something people imagine. You can learn to imagine a future in which you are healthy and living the life you want. But better still, you can be guided by your symptoms and start creating your future in this very moment.
As Gordon Gekko once famously quoted Ayn Rand – in ‘Wall Street’ – ‘Greed is good‘.
Well, both Ayn and Gordon got it wrong. Greed isn’t good. Passion is good. And Greed is a Headmind distortion of passion.
What goes on here is that Headmind (or Ego, if you prefer) substitutes Being for Having, and Emotion for acquisitiveness.
Now some people have a passion for making money. It’s not one of my attractions but I can understand why some people get that way. And if they are living that passion then they may well be doing other people a favour by giving them something they want – or making jobs for them. But when passion is distorted by acquisitiveness then they get greedy – and obsessive – and lonely – and sad. They may even end up in the Penitentiary like Gordon did.
When you live in Bodymind (as I try to do) you realise that Passion is its own reward. Work, Love, Telling the truth and being Creative are exciting things to do. Its not a guarantee that you will be rich, famous, loved or powerful. That’s Headmind telling us that we are unworthy if we are not in one of those categories.
As it happens I recently made up a list of emotions (passions) which get distorted by Headmind’s need to have something rather than to be something.
Joy – Addictions (Headmind has to possess happiness rather than just being with it and then letting it go). The addiction can be to sex, drugs, love or even money.
Anger – Revenge (Headmind has to control the offender rather than just express and forgive)
Fear – Dependency (Headmind has to collect helpers rather than accept personal responsibility)
Awe – Religious mania (Headmind has to impose the truth on others rather than admit that Life is too tremendous to be understood completely)
Sadness - Grief (Headmind refuses to live without the lost friend, father, mother or child) and lives in the past, holding on to memories.
Love – it isn’t really an emotion but it is a passion based on joy. But its distortion by Headmind is interesting because when the Ego tries to control it, then it becomes jealousy or possessiveness.
“Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.”
Kurt Vonnegut 1922-2007
A fantastic story appeared last week from Tom Hart Dyke – the Eccentric Gardener. Apparently he and a friend were plant-hunting in the South American jungle when they were kidnapped by the Indians. Trying to persuade them that they were not CIA agents but just two average joes who got lost in the jungle, they hit on the idea of singing and dancing to them.
They launched into the Pythons’ ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life‘ announcing it as the English National Anthem.
‘If Life seems jolly rotten – there’s something you’ve forgotten – Always look on the bright side of life’ one of them sang in a baritone, while the other leapt into the air with his knees up to his chin, waggling his hands.
Very soon the guerillas, sub-machine guns at their sides, were rolling around on the floor, crying with laughter.
Life of Brian could well be the funniest film ever made. Be that as it might, Tom Hart Dyke’s story tells us that extreme situations invite laughter or tears. Either are ok but I prefer laughter. The Life of Brian is full of characters – religious zealots, empire-builders, revolutionary conspirators, who just don’t get how funny they are when they are trying to be serious. In short, they are stuck in their heads. And the more pedantic they try to be, the funnier they are.
Now in the story Tom Hart Dyke tells it could have gone the other way. He and his friend could both have got very serious in a way that would have made things worse. The more worried they got the more those Indians would have gotten suspicious. But the crazy idea of doing that song broke through the barriers. Through laughter they avoided tragedy.
Which brings me to the late, great Kurt Vonnegut. This was a man who, as an American POW, survived the Dresden Fire Bombing in 1945 which wiped out 130,000 people. And who still managed to write SlaughterHouse 5, a book which is funny as well as grief-stricken for the men, women and children who died in the worst war in history.
God bless all those like the Pythons, Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Hart Dyke who give us the gift of laughter. Goodbye Blue Monday!
Last week, while I was doing some Reverse Therapy with a client, he asked: ‘Are emotions ever wrong?’ Meaning, is it possible to be angry, scared, sad, etc. over nothing all?
To answer this question we have to understand what an emotion is. Bodymind produces an emotion through cellular communication. Cells in the brain (mostly in the limbic system) pick up information from the environment and trigger other cells to send signals through to the nervous system. The resulting changes in the gut, skin, muscles, lungs and circulation are experienced as a feeling.
An emotion is not a thought (which can be wrong). But neither are emotions irrational – they are what Antonio Damasio calls ‘somatic markers’. That means they mark something out for your attention. In that way they serve the same function as the pain in your foot that tells you your shoes are too tight or the rumbling in your stomach that tells you it is time to eat.
So emotions are cues to action. Now this is where some people can misunderstand emotion – they mistake the inappropriate expression of the emotion (which comes out of wrong work of Headmind) for the emotion itself.
Contrary to common belief your Bodymind does not want you to shout or scream at someone when you notice anger. A quiet assertion of your rights is quite sufficient. Nor does your Body want you to run away (another Headmind cop-out) when you notice fear. Getting your facts straight about the situation you are in, talking to others about your options, and taking one small step to raise confidence is all that is required.
Too often – as with my client – we are conditioned into seeing emotions as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ because we have watched other people do destructive things when they get emotional. But emotions don’t encourage us to be destructive – just honest.
Part 2 of the video interview with John Eaton recorded by Chris Jefferson-Jones, introducing Reverse Therapy.
In my last post I mentioned that Zen has been a strong influence on Reverse Therapy and here’s how.
When I first started teaching people Reverse Therapy it wasn’t called that then. Instead it was called ‘Anti-therapy’. The idea was that it would be the complete opposite of traditional therapy. It wouldn’t waste time on analysis or belief-checking, or your ‘relationship’ with the therapist, or working out what happened to you at age four-and-a-half.
The other thing that made it anti-therapy was that we made friends with symptoms (or rather, with the Bodymind that produced them). If we could find out what made symptoms necessary we had a good chance of helping clients find a healthier way to deal with the situations in which symptoms came up.
All this was inspired, in part, by Zen. The Zen attitude to problems is to exercise awareness on them. Becoming fully aware – in the moment – of what is happening, without pre-judging anything enables you to see what is going on. So when you see why symptoms are necessary you are on the symptom path to enlightenment.
There is a story told by the Buddha (Gautama) meant as an analogy for the human condition. It concerns a man who is shot by an arrow who, instead of seeing his pain and doing something about it in the moment, insists on talking about the arrow – where it came from, who shot it, why it had to be him of all people, etc etc. This is what traditional therapy does. Gautama was himself anti-religion, seeing it as another obstacle to enlightenment.
Another thing we learnt from Zen is that Headmind gets in the way of enlightenment. Thinking doesn’t make you aware (in some cases it can just make you stupid – which is what Buddha is partly getting at). Zen exercises are designed to help people bypass Headmind. When you see that there is no answer to the absurd question ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping’ you are enlightened in that moment (although not necessarily in other moments). You have realised that thinking gets in the way of your experience, your awareness and your direct access to the way things are.
It is for that reason that Reverse Therapy teaches people to practice quietly sitting and sensing the way the way things are for them in each and every moment.
I have to admit that what also attracted me to Zen was its irreverence. It believes in no final wisdom, or teachers or even in the Buddha. There’s no better saying for that than the provocative Zen slogan: ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road – kill him’.
This is Part 1 of a video interview recorded by Chris Jefferson-Jones, introducing Reverse Therapy.
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy
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- Reverse Therapy
- Zen Buddhism