Off The Wheels: Revisiting the Past Again, and Again, and…

– Russell Fox, SHEN Therapist & Instructor
Originally written for The SHEN Touch newsletter.

How is one’s experience of life enriched through SHEN? How do you know it’s working? Sometimes referred to as ‘the karmic wheel,’ the patterns of most people’s lives do seem to repeat, over and over again. The past appears to hold us captive, in some mysterious way forcing us to repeat family dysfunctions, repeatedly make damaging personal decisions, re-invite limiting and controlling people into our lives, and give ourselves over to processes, philosophies and substances that promise relief from the secret hurts, pains and sometimes not so quiet desperation we accept as ‘normalcy’ for most humans. The influence of our personal ‘living past’ surely seems very much alive, unstoppable, often insurmountable. Real options for ‘getting on with’ our lives often seem so hard to come by, if not lacking completely.

Does this sound familiar? To one degree or another, that is how most of our clients present. To the extent that we as SHEN Therapists share the above hurts, pains and that frustrating ‘pull of the past,’ we owe it to our selves to do something about it. Just as we suggest to our clients, it’s time to take it to the table.

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When in the ‘Red Capsule’ article – SHEN TOUCH, Issue No. 8 – I stated that “…the “past” is not only not living, it never really existed at all”, I didn’t expect that that one line would jump out at so many folks, Certified SHEN Therapists included. Rather than being dismissive of ‘the past,’ I meant to suggest that there is most often a huge disconnect between what we felt was happening at the time, and what most likely was actually going on.

Yes, I agree that for better or worse, we are the product of our past, and that learning from the past is not only critically important, it is also, sadly, one of those roads less traveled. When I say “Actually, the “past” is not only not living, it never really existed at all” I’m referring to the simple, yet problematic truth that if two or three people experiencing the same events will always remember those events in different ways, then what really happened, what was the actuality?

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I believe it is much more accurate to say we are the product of our responses in and to the past. I recall the SHEN-related aphorism, The ‘problem’ is not the problem: The problem is our response to the problem. That response to the present moment is unique to the individual, and is itself the product of all the ‘present moment’ responses that preceded it.

All those previously internalized present-moment responses – still very much alive & well in the biofield, become the filters through which our ‘now’ present moments are experienced and evaluated, thus dictating our thoughts, choices, actions and relationships. So, for the majority of the human family, over and over it’s the responses during and to our presumed past which shape, define and limit our present situations and choices, as well as our options for the future.

Much like the telephone game, once an experience is passed through multiple layers of previously internalized responses, even a shared event is always remembered differently depending on the various emotional filters each person brings to that not so ‘shared’ event.

Just to be clear, I prefer defining ‘previously internalized responses’ as I believe Richard Pavek, SHEN’s developer does: incomplete emotional episodes. Because of the painful quality of so many earlier events, what we now remember as the event’s ‘emotional charge’ is most often not the actual emotion. but rather our innate reflex to contract (ACPR) around that pain in order to not experience it. As Karol Truman’s book title states, “Feelings Buried Alive Never Die.”  It is, then, these layers of incomplete emotional episodes – unique to each individual, that determine our ‘past,’ not the events themselves.

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Central to SHEN Therapy is that rich life lessons and new personal options are the natural consequence of the work. These personal lessons and new options are made available through the full experience and completion of difficult emotions which were earlier the victims of our protective contractive responses, ACPR. This repeated protective response is what has built our treasure trove of uncompleted emotional episodes. Call them what you will, the lessons of the past – I might even say the answers to the mysteries of life, reside in our biofield. The empowering enrichment of each present moment and all future present moments is only made possible through fully experiencing that which we have so successfully, albeit somewhat less than consciously, previously avoided.

To what extent, then, do we seriously want to take responsibility for who we are now, at this moment by completing our still unfinished past? Isn’t this the bottom line of personal integrity? “To be, or not to be. That is the question.” As I said in the article, I believe that is the only question. One way or the other, it is the question we all re-answer every day with every choice of word and deed.

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This is the context in which I shared the No. 6 segment of the Red Capsule/Matrix Allegory article. This, in fact, is the defining point of that entire article. Here it is again. The brackets ( [ ] ) are recent added clarifications. See if it now makes a bit more ‘SHEN sense.’

6. Actually, the “past” is not only not living, it never really existed at all. Our past only exists as we created it through our painful, yet ill-informed responses to what we thought [felt] was happening around us [particularly] during our first decade or two of life. These responses kept us justified, seemingly self-defined and, therefore, apparently safe.

Thanks entirely to Richard Pavek’s insights, research, self-exploration and his commitment to having SHEN make a real difference in real lives, thanks to him we can now actually talk of these things intelligently, and offer the world a way ‘off the karmic wheel,’ one SHEN session at a time.

So, then, how is one’s experience of life enriched through SHEN? As SHEN Therapists, without trying to dictate the outcome for our clients, what is our goal for those entrusting themselves to us and the SHEN process? The satisfaction of living each moment free from past hurts and future fears, feeling and responding fully to what is actually happening now, and living in personal integrity without the crippling distortions of old emotional filters… That’s the goal: Each of us, becoming fully available, to ourselves, and to those we love.

Thank you, Richard.

Waiting In The Wings: SHEN Therapy & Our Emotional Drama

– Russell Fox, SHEN Therapist & Instructor
Originally written for The SHEN Touch newsletter.

Basic to SHEN Therapy is the fairly radical understanding that the prime mover in human experience is not the brain and its five hardwired physical senses. It is, rather, one’s ever-shifting emotional state. Certainly sight, hearing, smelling, taste and touch help to keep us aware of our physical and social surroundings, but what the brain does with that information and how the individual responds appears to be completely unique to that person and utterly dependent upon their prevailing emotional filters.

Even the assumed solid cornerstones of what it means to be human – our sustaining rational logic, reason and mental clarity, even the certainties of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are themselves all dependent on whatever emotional state is dominant.

You can easily prove this to yourself: Just think back to your own experience of being angry, really angry at someone close to you. How could they have done or said that terribly hurtful thing? And, so, as a result, you felt perfectly justified in forcefully saying and doing whatever was needed to defend yourself, reclaim your honor, and set the record straight. At the time, your responses felt so justified, so right, so absolutely rational, so completely logical.

Yet, later, upon reflection – and with a horribly uncomfortable grip of sorrow and shame, you privately asked yourself, “How could I have possibly said that to this person I really care about? I didn’t really mean to say all those terrible things! What came over me?” Clearly, for most of us, logic, reason and rationale are about as solid as a jiggling bowl of gelatin dessert, responding in-kind to whatever emotional forces strike the bowl.

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Yes, our minds are truly amazing. We have often been told that our brains are, in very fact, computers of the highest order and complexity.  But, remember – a computer is hardware and can’t do anything by itself. It’s job is simply to store, access and manipulate bits of information as dictated by whatever software program is active. Different programs demand, and get different information streams, and we end up with perfectly logical program-specific results.

Likewise, at all times, day and night, our brains are tasked with the incredible job of sorting through and accessing all the information necessary to logically justify and make sense of whatever emotional ‘software’ state is most dominant.

Our long-held emotional baggage is jam-packed with highly charged hurts, fears, shames and sadnesses which, when triggered jump to center stage, demanding our full attention. Most often we try to avoid the pain by shoving it down and stuffing it back into the baggage just below the surface… until the next time it gets triggered by someone or something once again striking our jiggling bowl of gelatinous insecurity.

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The good news is that this condition of feeling trapped in an emotional recycling bin does not have to be a ‘life sentence.’ What if it were an option to not instinctively shove back down and stuff our painful emotions? Could it be that in some therapeutic manner we might allow difficult emotional material to completely take center stage where we can fully experience what we have so unsuccessfully been trying to avoid, and, therefore, be done with it? Can you imagine what life would be like without those weighty limitations we drag around?

Stretching the theater analogy just a bit further, SHEN Therapy is the experienced stage manager that carefully brings the painful emotion to center stage, allows the audience observer to safely, yet completely experience the rich fullness being offered, and then, as the stage manager ushers the now completed emotion out of the theater, the once difficult material begins to dissipate and disappear, never to return in quite the same way.

So, again, what would life be like if you were free from what you’ve kept alive and well all these years by continuously stuffing it back into the old baggage you’re so afraid to let go of? We can begin answering that by asking one other simple question…

What truly is the goal of SHEN Therapy? As I see it, and have said before, it’s the rich satisfaction of living each moment free from past hurts, and future fears, responding fully to what is actually happening now, and living in personal integrity without the crippling distortions of old emotional filters…

That is the singular goal of SHEN Therapy: Each of us, becoming fully available, to ourselves, and to those we love.