Reverse Therapy

Bodymind healing and awareness

Can an emotion ever be wrong?

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.

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March 26, 2007 Posted by | Bodymind, Damasio, Emotions, Headmind, Reverse Therapy | Leave a comment

Video Interview with John Eaton – Part 2

Part 2 of the video interview with John Eaton recorded by Chris Jefferson-Jones, introducing Reverse Therapy.

March 22, 2007 Posted by | Bodymind, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Health, Reverse Therapy | Leave a comment

Recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

At my request, John Aitken is guesting today. He is a former counsellor who recovered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and has now retrained as a Reverse Therapist. I think John’s words speak for themselves so I don’t need to add any more.

John writes:

My belief that I must succeed drove me to illness; and my insistence that I must be self-sufficient at all costs kept me there. My activities became extremely narrow. I was purely focused on training to be a Mental Health Nurse. The more tired I became the more I concentrated on this – reinforcing the problem. In fact one day I remember an old school friend asking me what I did to have fun. I was speechless. I didn’t have any fun.

I slowly became more and more exhausted.

I made an appointment with my GP, who arranged for blood tests and a depression study. These were clear and he diagnosed me (by exclusion) with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E. I was devastated. I had previously made a joke that I was going to start an M.E. support group, but I couldn’t be arsed – that back-fired. At first I couldn’t get out of bed. It was like having a devastating hangover and the flu at the same time. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I had always been so active. How long was this going to last for? Would I have to consider being incapacitated for the long term? I looked on Google for more information and was completely overwhelmed – and my symptoms increased. Shit!! I had all the common CFS symptoms and couldn’t believe this was happening to me – I had always been a high achiever

All my dialogue was internal: “I have got to make the best of it” “How come other selfish people get away with it without getting ill?”. In fact since doing a person-centred counselling course, I believed that it was my role to do all the listening. I devalued myself and assumed that it was my sole function in life to be supportive of others.

Then I discovered Reverse Therapy and my life turned around.

This process highlighted the importance of paying attention to my emotional needs and my own personal truths rather than all the rules and expectations that I had inherited.

In summary, I was not expressing my emotional needs and was not having enough fun in my life. Reverse Therapy helped with this by showing me how my body reacts and causes symptoms. It taught me how to respect my symptoms as a clear message that something was not right in my life. That I needed to correct something in order to respond to my body’s needs. I now know how to be well.

I now live my life according to my emotional truths and not the learnt psychological rules that I have assimilated from society in general. I am much happier and stimulated by life again. Like everybody else I have bad days but I quickly bounce back and have more fun.

I asserted my need to be listened to sometimes and downgraded my role as a counsellor (taking on other’s issues). Ironically I am now better able to help people with their issues using Reverse Therapy.

March 12, 2007 Posted by | Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Reverse Therapy, Therapy | Leave a comment

Health is what you don’t notice

Health, like happiness, is something you only notice when you haven’t got it.

This points to something important. It tells us that when we are healthy (or happy) we are absorbed in other things. When I look back at all the best times in my life (writing novels and poems in my twenties, falling in love with my wife, getting started as a therapist, founding Reverse Therapy) they all coincided with opportunities for exercising my passion. This meant, in turn, that I had no time for worry; that I was absorbed in self-actualizing what potential I had.

The route meaning of the word ‘health’ is the same (in Anglo-Saxon) as the word ‘whole’. So the healthy person is a whole person – someone who is making the most of all their talents, their emotions and their desires. Our capacity for love, our work and our emotional truth come together. And when that happens Bodymind sees to it that the organism is kept in a vital state, ready for more fulfilment.

So often Headmind tries to put a clamper on this – saying that we can’t do this and we have to do that, or we don’t deserve to be who we really want to be. If we give those thoughts any air-time at all we will quickly be on the road to illness.

March 8, 2007 Posted by | Health, Reverse Therapy, Wellbeing | Leave a comment

Zen

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’.

March 5, 2007 Posted by | Bodymind, Buddha, Headmind, Pain, Reverse Therapy, Zen Buddhism | Leave a comment