Freeing the heart
As craniosacral practitioners or perhaps as therapists of any kind (or maybe just as people that work with people every day!) there's certain things we think but never say. Right? There's certain things we see and feel that we immediately just know is better kept inside.
But my question is, how do we know?
Well, maybe we feel it. Maybe it's too outrageous to actually say out loud. Maybe it's downright hurtful or judgemental. Maybe we are so impeccably attuned to our client's needs that we just know what we can and can't say to facilitate their highest good.
And so we learn. We learn patterns and frameworks internally without realising we are learning what is in some ways, a sophisticated practice of self censorship. We learn how to calibrate our internal voice in order to present ourselves to our clients in a way that we feel is in their best interest. But how do we actually know that it is?
We learn patterns and frameworks internally without realising we are learning what is in some ways, a sophisticated practice of self censorship.
We don't. We don't know anything. We are just employing our inner compass. And people use a compasses when they don't want to get lost. When they want to navigate. So we use our inner compass to navigate ourselves and the unfolding client relationship. That's fair right? Of course, I hear you say. Otherwise there would be CHAOS! And that would be DANGEROUS.
So here we are holding danger and chaos in one hand and sensitive navigation in the other. And within those two extremes we are making a choice. More often than not, we choose not to be lost with our clients, we choose to navigate and to know. What opens then is a field of knowing yet we are at the same time, expecting our client to explore their unknown with us. We have a well calibrated and sophisticated inner compass whilst the client sits in front of us feeling like their equipment consists of a broken torch, a frozen google map and soggy walking boots.
We have a well calibrated and sophisticated inner compass whilst the client sits in front of us feeling like their equipment consists of a broken torch, a frozen google map and soggy walking boots.
Doesn't feel like such an even playing field. So what do we do? Answer all together now: We help them find their inner compass! That's an easy answer though. That's what you'll find written on most counselor and therapist website before you've even met them. 'Perhaps you're struggling with [insert crisis event] right now, if so, therapy could be helpful'
Everyone wants a compass when they're lost. It's logical and it's responsible to help them find one. What are we doing differently though? Not everybody (perhaps nobody really) wants to sit in a shit storm of internal chaos. Because it feels, well, like a shit storm. But I wonder (outloud, perhaps irresponsibly, but who really cares or reads these posts anyway hopefully not the CSTA oopsie) if actually there is something that happens when we join our client in the storm. When we stand in the tornado with them as hail batters down on our faces and we can't for the life of us, see a single thing. I wonder if rather than helping clients to search their backpacks and pockets and black-hole-tote bags for their internal compass, we could just turn around and say 'Well, it's very windy here and this shit stinks!'
I wonder if rather than helping clients to search their backpacks and pockets and black-hole-tote bags for their internal compass, we could just turn around and say 'Well, it's very windy here and this shit stinks!'
Would that make us unethical? Would it trigger our inner criminal? Or could it be something that makes something possible. What's that something? I have absolutely no idea. Nor do I advocate this approach with clients. Nor would I necessarily repeat anything i've said below ever again. But something happened. Inside the something there was...something. A feeling. A realness. An unspeakable shifting of ground.
So here's my blog series of 10 things that I've said to a client that I probably shouldn't have, and what happened after. Each client example gets its own blog post.
'Looks like we need a trip to Homebase to get these padlocks off your heart'
What happened: Client sees twenty padlocks bolted onto his heart
What I probably should have said: I can feel how difficult this is for you right now and how much you've needed to do to keep your heart safe
What I actually said: 'What's happening with your heart right now?'
'It's got padlocks on it'
'What does your heart look like with twenty padlocks on it?'
'They're big padlocks too'
'What do you want to do?'
'Take them off?'
'How do you want to do that?'
'I'll need power tools'
'Looks like we're going to need a trip to Homebase then'
'Either or, let's get the tools in'
What happened: The client proceeded to use various power tools to take each padlock off his heart individually. Either sawing through or picking the locks or finding the right combination codes. He got through 3 and then started to find the rest were easier. Then he realised he didn't actually need tools, that he could dissolve the padlocks himself instantly, through his awareness and intention alone. Through the power of his heart. The humour intertwined within this deep realisation perhaps allowed the work to take place without overwhelm. For there to be an involvement but also a holding. Especially as humour is a beautiful attribute that the client brings to his life.
What the outcome was: The client started to understand for the first time, that he had locked up his own heart to avoid feeling rejected or hurt. This helped him understand why he was unable to consistently find the connection he craved with other people. Over the next few sessions he started to talk more about his heart, about what it wanted, arriving at something he was passionate about and finally willing to take the brave step towards exploring it. The fear of rejection seemed to have disappeared, along with the twenty padlocks.