Procedure for Releasing
- Step One: Locate. First think of some problem area in life - something that is of great urgency and concern. It may be a relationship with a loved one, a parent or child; it might be your job, health or fears. Or it might simply be the emotion that you are experiencing now.
- Step Two: Identify your emotion. Determine your emotion about the problem area, or the current emotion. What word comes to mind? If necessary examine the previous list of emotions as a reminder. Check on the list also to determine the primary nature of the emotion - for example, if you perform your releasing operation on fear, rather than hesitance or worry, you will find the results are much more dramatic and powerful.
- Step Three: Focus. What do you really feel? Open yourself up, become aware of the physical sensations attached to the emotion and focus on them (Sensate Focusing).
- Step Four: Feel your emotion. Deliberately create it. Let your emotion inhabit your entire body and mind. If the emotion is a grief emotion, you may break into tears; if it is anger, you may feel your blood begin to boil. That's good - now is the time to feel the emotion.
- Step Five: Individuate. Become aware of the difference between your Self - YOU - and what that Self is feeling. When the emotion is fully experienced and accepted, there will at some point be a clear sensation that your emotion is not you, so it would be possible to let go of the emotion.
If you do not feel that it is possible to let the emotion go, feel it some more. Sooner or later you will reach a point where you can truthfully answer: "Yes, I could let this emotion go".
- Step Six: Learn the lesson. Spot the underlying thought, assumption, decision or intention, and how it has been driving your emotions. See now how rational it is in interpreting your current circumstances, even though it may have seemed appropriate in the past. What do you learn from this?
The most vital aspect of this process is the learning of life lessons. Unless you recognize what you are to learn from your negative emotions, they will not release permanently, because they will have to regenerate again until the lesson is learned once and for all. After all, the very nature of negative emotions is a message to you -- letting you know that something needs to be learned. When you don't recognize the situation as an opportunity to learn, another situation will be created. And it will continue to be re-created until the lesson is learned.
- Step Seven: Release. When will you let this emotion go? Sooner or later you will be able to answer: "I am willing to let this emotion go now". So let the emotion go, simply release it, if you haven't done so spontaneously. It feels good to let it go - all the built-up energy that has been held in the body is released. There is a sudden decrease in physical and nervous tension. You will feel more relaxed, calm, centered.
- Step Seven: Check. Do you still have any of the emotion? If some of it is still there then go through the procedure again. Often releasing is like a well - you release some and then more arises. Some of our pent-up emotions are so deep that they require a number of releases.
Once you've learned to release you'll find that simply becoming aware of an emotion is often enough to trigger a natural, spontaneous release, and you will carry the ability over into your everyday life, resulting in a stress-free mind and body.
Further Notes about Releasing Painful Emotions
The work we do on the New Life Course and the The Insight Project is more in the field of personal development than psychotherapy, though there is some overlap. You're starting off with a state of reasonably happy and stable, and looking to enhance your life by recovering freedom of viewpoint, to be free of cultural conditioning and also free of previous belief systems, including unconscious ones.
In therapy you are looking to uncover the underlying beliefs that cause the presenting problem, which is causing the client distress, but first you have to release the painful emotion enough so that the client is capable of looking deeper. On the courses the student is not suffering destabilising distress so you can ask directly for beliefs in many specific areas and address them. Though the student may not feel deep distress in any area, they are looking to find areas in which they might be blocked, and in The Insight Project there are special techniques for that, using GSR biofeedback as an aid to detect subconscious suppressed material and to reinforce intuitive insights.
As you work on The Insight Project - and the same would apply when you are working through the Explorations in the present materials - you may reactivate something you can't think about without tears, or which causes an unconfrontable fear that severely interrupts what you want to do in life. Or it may have deeper roots in the kind of case that is handled on The Insight Project, to do with personal identity and life goals.
The model that is most effective to help with this is Rational Emotive Therapy as discovered by Albert Ellis. Briefly stated, it is about spotting the thoughts that go through your mind when circumstances trigger an unpleasant or self-defeating emotional reaction, resulting in behavior that is not in one's best interest. In other words it is the irrational thoughts that drive emotions and resulting behavior. These thoughts derive from times when they seemed like the best solution to trying circumstances, and they may be an agreement with a dominant or persuasive force. Then, because those circumstances were unpleasant and so later suppressed, the accompanying thoughts, decisions and purposes become suppressed too, but continue to operate subconsciously.
When brought to light, it is normally apparent that the thoughts are affecting current life unnecessarily, as they are usually an over-generalization, an exaggeration, a negativity or an intolerance that is irrational. The therapist asks appropriate questions so that the client can see this for themselves - being careful not to evaluate for the client: it needs to be their own insight to be meaningful and to give positive change (this is the main difference between psychoanalysis in which evaluation is used in error, in my opinion).
So the route to the beliefs is to find the situation that triggers unwanted emotions and behavior, then see what the underlying thoughts are that drive that reaction - often fleeting and suppressed, so one needs to go over the incident repeatedly until it can be viewed with equanimity. Also there are frequently similar, connected experiences that underlie the more recent one that is first recalled, and one needs to go back down a chain of such experiences to find the time when a basic decision was made that affects all later situations.
Finding that decision is therefore crucial to resolving the problem, and when it is seen in the light of an objective view this is a great relief, because the decision - and the beliefs surrounding it - can normally be changed quite readily. It may however mean finding a new solution to the problem that it has been 'solving' in the person's mind. This may be difficult if the solution is used to make the person feel right (or justified if connected with bad actions) and/or to make others wrong defensively or manipulatively. Again the therapist needs to ask appropriate questions to expand the client's view in this area. In personal development the student can ask these questions, having been educated in the principles involved, and being emotionally stable enough to do so.
So these are the principles involved, which are common to much of humanistic psychology, and in my approach are also the basis for further transpersonal work. The way it works is this:
- The person has a traumatic experience, of pain or loss.
- As a result of the experience, s/he makes a decision or intention for the future, such as "men are violent bastards" which becomes part of their belief system.
- Because the incident was painful it is suppressed, together with the decision, which therefore continues to act subconsciously.
- When the incident is reactivated by similar circumstances in the present, the old decision is subconsciously enacted.
- The decision may have been relevant and appropriate to the original circumstances but it is probably not appropriate now - it is therefore irrational and somewhat stupid, i.e. it may contain an assumption or generalization that causes intolerance or negativity.
- The subconscious decision also causes unpleasant emotions (sadness, fear, antagonism, anger, etc), which drive the person to behave in an inappropriate and self-defeating way. This is the cycle of irrationality - misemotion - negative behavior pattern that is described in rational-emotive therapy and in Transforming the Mind.
In helping yourself in this way, you can use the above technique of Releasing, to become able to re-experience the painful emotion, to the point that you realize that you actually create the emotion based on your interpretation of events, and that you are not the emotion, i.e. "I create the emotion of being angry" rather than "I am angry".
For the releasing to be permanent you need to spot the underlying irrational thought, assumption, decision or intention, and how it has been driving your emotions.
Responsibility - Yours or Mine?
It is important to clarify the issue of responsibility. You are responsible for doing what you think is right, according to your ethical judgment. If you do something wrong according to your own ethics, you are responsible for that. You are not responsible for another person's emotional reaction though, which is based on their own interpretation of events and is their determinism, their freedom. Similarly others are not responsibile for your emotional reactions - nobody "makes" you angry, you create that response based on your interretation of events.
If you do something you think is right and someone gets upset about it, even if you could have predicted that, the upset is nevertheless that person's responsibility. And if you do something you know is wrong and another person is upset about that, their upset is similarly their own responsibility - your wrong action is of course very much your responsibility.
You may decide to withhold an action because of a predicted effect, although that effect is another's responsibility. Here it is an ethical judgment - withholding that action, if it would have been the right thing to do, may be doing a bad action of commission.
Sometimes you do something you know another probably won't like, because it is the right and therefore responsible thing to do. The other person's reaction is their personal responsibility.
For example if you were to withhold doing personal development because your partner has said they do not want you to change in any way, perhaps because they project their personal fears and insecurities, which is your choice. But if you consider making a better life for yourself is the ethical thing to do - for the benefit of yourself and ultimately for others too - and you tell your partner that and she gets upset, it is your partner who is responsible for the upset - it is her interpretation of your actions that creates her own upset, not your action in itself, which is a responsible action.
You can genuinely love someone whilst nevertheless doing something they don't like or agree with. You do it because you feel it is the right thing to do, though you still understand and have empathy for their different viewpoint (that causes their emotional reaction, part of their 'case' that they have created by their own choices and belief system).
If one only did things others can easily accept then the status quo would never progress. That would truly be a trap. The solution here is better communication, leading to increased understanding of each other's viewpoint, and therefore acceptance of the differing personal realities.
All one's case is tied up in this and certainly there is conditioning from many sources and social mores that confuse the issue. In society there's a general misconception that you are your emotions. "I am angry" and "you make me angry". This is conditioning not truth. In terms of cause and effect, it's a viewpoint at effect. Some say that to be happy only do what others can easily experience - it's the same lie.
The Church teaches "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you". This makes sense, as if you are being ethical then it's going to be OK for others to do the same to you. And if it isn't then you'd better re-think whether you are indeed doing the right thing. It is one definition of a 'wrong' action: that which you would not like another to do to you.
One of the confusions is to do with level of game. There's this thing in some philosophies of being cause of everything, but that is a source condition, not a games condition. Life on Earth is a games condition. Game requires other-determinism, unknowns, barriers, disagreements. When you play football you are responsible for your actions and helping your team to score goals. You don't worry about the other side being upset when you score.
It's a basic principle of respect for others and granting them beingness, that they are responsible for their actions and reactions - that is their freedom of choice. They are not a slave or puppet. One can consider a question like "What could I be responsible for?" and one may conclude "everything". That may ultimately be true but it is not necessarily the best approach to life, for happiness for yourself and others.
And in New Age philosophy there is this thing of "You create your reality". Again, ultimately that's true but the reality is still real! If it's raining, I might consider "This is wonderful, so good for nature and it smells lovely" whilst another person says "How awful, I'm not going out in that, how depressing". Two realities, but subjective ones.
From your interpretation of reality you make decisions and your decisions and choices and emotional tone have enormous influence on the direction of your life and what happens. Psychic and telepathic phenomena are also a big factor, but generally act subconsciously as the society suppresses them, because they threaten the status quo game of a purely mechanical reality, based on competitive survival.
There are better games to play, which give win-win results, but still the element of fun requires unknowns and randomness, even if self-imposed. In one's own universe and when exteriorised from this Earth game, one can adopt more of a source viewpoint that does not have the same games conditions. Like in lucid dreaming when you can create/do what you want.
Looking at life and relationships in terms of Communication, Understanding and Empathy (CUE) is a spiritual viewpoint. It is like the 'love of God' - it can seem harsh but it's about the 'greatest good'. It has no room for the 'victim' identification, jealousy and those kinds of very human responses, which are based on conditioned lies.
Consideration for the other person comes into play when you judge ethics, what is best overall, not just for oneself. However the other may not agree with your judgment nor like it. That is an aspect of the unknown and randomness of the game. You try to make it a win-win rather than competitive game by increasing the qualities of CUE.
You are responsible for your choices, decisions and actions. For being true to your judgment. For communicating with honesty and integrity, developing and maintaining an open mind, and promoting understanding and empathy. For never compromising your freedoms and rights nor trampling on another's. For always acting from the primary motivation of love. That's all and quite enough.