As a Talk Therapist I had always felt a certain dissatisfaction with the lack of depth of the Talk Therapy process. Although I was particularly adept at tying in a client’s struggles to past experiences, past relationships, and even some likely genetic causes, the moments of insight brought from these connections were limited in their impact on the client’s struggles. Subsequent interventions that intended to assist a client with emotional release, reducing persistent destructive thoughts and beliefs, and helping build in the client a more accepting sense of self were helpful for those struggles that might be characterized as situational, e.g. a brief one time episode of depression in reaction to a life event. However with persistent repetitive struggles talk therapy seemed to lack essential depth. It felt as if talk therapy was great at cleaning up a stopped up sink so that no one would know the pipes beneath the sink were clogged. But it was only a matter of time before the sink was full of stuff again since the root of the problem had not been adequately addressed.
Medication; e.g. antidepressants, anti-anxiety agents, et al; were helpful to some clients in reducing symptoms, however the side effects and most prominently the withdrawal effects when a client wanted to stop medications were at times overwhelmingly unpleasant.
Twenty years ago I asked Lori D, a bulimic client of mine, “When are the times you feel the greatest relief from your emotional and behavioral struggles?” Her response, “When riding my horse I feel free.” The words struck me, but not as deeply as the look on her face when she said them. The shame and anguish that typically were etched in her face when talking about her eating disorder or past traumas were immediately replaced by a complete look of serenity. It was as if merely calling to mind the experience of riding her horse gave her immediate relief from all her struggles. It was in that moment that I was able to see Lori D without her struggles. The moment revealed her lightness, her inner beauty, her soulfulness.
As we talked about her experience when riding it became clear; if she could find a way to capture and hold on to that experience she would find a greater and sustaining peace in her life. However she was unable to hold that experience and allow it to integrate fully. It was clearly part of her, however other forces were dominating her experience. We explored other situations in which she would have temporary relief from her struggles, sometimes during a lengthy meditation, when immersed in a conversation with a friend who needed her help, or when engaged in a pleasurable creative endeavor. However the commonality of all these experiences was that the relief she experienced was indeed temporary. What was it about riding her horse that enabled her to experience freedom from her struggles? Was it merely a distraction? Or was there something more complex and revealing going on? It was twelve years later, in 2007, that I found my answer in a book and a technology.
Enter The Presence Process and Brainwave Optimization. Today we have a much greater understanding that energy is the underpinning to our behaviors, emotions, thoughts, in fact all of our human experience. Dr David Dawkins in his book “Power Vs Force” describes in great detail the vibration energies underlying our human experience. Since the quality of the energy influences our experience it makes sense that if you want to alter your experience it is necessary to alter the underlying energies. Talk therapy, medications, certain types of energy work, may minimally influence underlying energies, however the use of these strategies work by exerting external forces on internal processes. The external influence is a setup for unwanted effects. A therapist or energy worker cannot avoid unwittingly influencing the experience of the client. Medications too, though helpful at times, influence a variety of other factors that alter the client’s experience without the client’s permission and perhaps even their awareness.
Using talk therapy as an example here; the talk therapist is a co-influencer on the client’s energy. We co-create stories about the energy (issues related to your family of origin, experiences in your life, etc) and then co-create new stories to replace the unwanted story (your parents did their best, it wasn’t your fault, etc). Although both the old and new stories have merit, they are still just stories. And though these stories may have some influence on the underlying energy the force of that influence is limited and unwittingly distorted by the client-therapist relationship.
What if the energy could alter itself without the influence of a third party, be it a talk therapist, medication, or an energy healer? What if the internal energy could simply work with itself to resonate differently, perhaps finding its own balance and harmony.
In 2007 I picked up a book by Michael Brown titled “The Presence Process.” As I read through the book I knew that I had found something uniquely different as a process of healing. By design it assisted in eliminating the need for external influences. The process of “consciously connected breathing” enabled an individual to experience internal processes (energy) without the influence and interference of one’s thoughts and behaviors. Our mental processes and behaviors serve to distort, sedate, or deny our deeper energy experience. As one moves through the presence process one moves deeper and deeper into the stuck and uncomfortable energy that underlay our struggles. In so doing the the energy begins to move and integrate into our present day experience and our struggles reduce in severity.
Remember Lori D and the relief she experienced from riding her horse? The high level of peace and serenity was not created by a new narrative, a new medication, or an energy manipulator. It was her own energy influencing itself. It was her brain seeking and finding in those moments balance and harmony. But the effect had limitations. The competing underlying stuck energies were too strong. She could not fully integrate the experience when riding because of the competing unbalanced or stuck energy networks that existed in her body. She could not ride her horse all day and night.
The Presence Process was only the beginning in my connection to something that could work with the deeper vibration energies operating unconsciously within us. It was a technology known as Brainwave Optimization that gave me an even deeper i understanding of the underlying forces in our experience as well as another experience of healing.
I don’t remember how I had first heard about the process of Brainwave Optimization, however it was January 2nd, 2008 that I found myself in Austin, Texas undergoing 8 sessions of brain training. I took my last Adderall the day prior, to allow my brain to work with the technology without interference from speed. I had been using Adderall for 8 years, having been diagnosed with adult attention deficit disorder by an Adderall loving psychiatrist. Admittedly Adderall had done wonders for my ability to focus and follow through on tasks; something I had always struggled with. Until I took Adderall at the age of 48 I had not read a book from cover to cover.
However my relationship with Adderall was a mixture of love and hate. I loved how it made me more capable of focus and henceforth more productive. Like someone with bipolar disorder on a manic high I could produce large volumes of material…some useful some useless. The other side of the relationship wasn’t as pretty. My personality was a bit edgy. I couldn’t tolerate being interrupted from a task, even if it was my wife lovingly offering me a much needed meal. The useful energy brought out by Adderall was accompanied by useless and at times non-relational, nay, annoyingly intolerant energy.
After my first two brain training sessions (I was doing 2 per day) nothing in particular was noticeable until I drifted off to sleep that night in my hotel room and awoke the following morning feeling rested. A feeling I indeed was previously not all that familiar with. But it was after the second day’s morning session that I really began to experience a shift. While driving to get lunch I noticed how spectacularly green foliage suddenly looked. Even traffic signals seemed brighter, the sky bluer. It was as if a veil had been lifted. How I experienced life was beginning to shift. More on this shift in future writings.
This blog is about how The Presence Process and Brainwave Optimization have informed my view of mental health and how to deal with emotional and behavioral struggles. It is intended to offer a new paradigm within which to view and react to our human struggles.