Resentments, Challenges, and Opportunities
All our relationships are complex and nuanced, but perhaps none more so than our relationships with our family. And unless we learn how to navigate this inherently thorny terrain, we jeopardize our continued sobriety and unfolding evolutionary growth in every dimension of the AQAL map.
No matter our stage of recovery, personal growth, and spiritual development, going home to visit our families can be like dropping a bolder in the pond. It’s more than the gentle ripples of a breeze: it’s chaotic crash as the stone penetrates the water’s calm surface and sinks deeply to the ground, where it stirs up all the muck that had settled there.
But why? Why are our familial relationships so challenging and so impactful?
As Dr. Bob Weathers so eloquently put it: “Family is the strange attractor for the deepest templates in our experience.”
For the curious, Wikipedia tells us that “in the mathematical field of dynamical systems, an attractor is a set of numerical values toward which a system tends to evolve, for a wide variety of starting conditions of the system. System values that get close enough to the attractor values remain close even if slightly disturbed.”
Our relationships with our families defined and shaped our experience of the world, and when we re-enter their orbit, we feel their gravity’s pull again. And for most of us, and addicts in particular, this is accompanied by a return of the fear, shame, self-judgment, resentment, anger, and trauma that we’ve worked so hard to transcend.
It’s the ultimate test of our enlightenment, growth and recovery: Will we allow ourselves to unconsciously return to our unhealthy patterns, (chemical relief, disconnection, and a return to the egocentric 1st person perspective), or will we rise to the opportunity to deepen our practice?
On the Integral Recovery path, life itself, with all its samsaric suffering, is our initiation. It’s the wood for our growing spiritual fire. But we have to show up.
Showing up means, among other things, staying present with our challenges. It means opening our hearts with compassion and being fully present with situations and people that once caused us to contract. By allowing ourselves to enter fully into this space of shared perspective, even (and especially) when we disagree or have lingering, unresolved material, we receive the gift of a potent transformative catalyst.
When we practice in context, entering “witness consciousness” as the muck is stirred by the crashing bolder of our family (a state of high emotional arousal), we have a rare neuropsychological opportunity to reconsolidate our memories and feelings in a more loving and compassionate light.
It’s not an easy thing to do. But it’s a profound opportunity for deep healing and growth – one that’s worth meeting with integrity and resilience. Let’s all show up with courage and compassion.
[1:05] How the stress of going home can be an issue in sobriety, and this affects both those in early recover and later in the recovery process. How the family’s behavior around drinking and drug use, conflicting political or religious viewpoints, and more can pose significant obstacles to ongoing sobriety.
[2:00] The importance of continued practice during family visits, and other strategies to keep ourselves healthy
[2:35] The disposition of grace that comes through when we allow ourselves to fully be with others, specifically our family members at a different developmental level, with full presence, empathy, and compassion
[4:50] How inhabiting the world of another through committed presence and empathy creates an opportunity for growth through discomfort
[6:30] The opening of hope and possibility for increased understanding when we use the taking of perspectives as a practice for development
[7:47] The challenges of continuing our Integral Practice when we’re away and with family, removed from our routines and environments – and why maintaining or increasing our practice in those circumstances is helpful
[9:17] Dealing with the challenges of outdated perceptions and memories that our family and friends may hold despite the changes we’ve made in our recovery.
[10:45] Confronting the challenge of our discomfort and memories of past mistakes and ways of being through deliberate shifts into witness consciousness.
[12:30] Owning our past mistakes and using family visits as an opportunity to acknowledge and come to terms with our own growth and transformation, and learning to accept and integrate those changes in ourselves to transcend the shame and regret of our former lives.
[15:02] “The amygdala has no time stamp”: The “time-machine” effect of visiting with our families and its powerful triggering effect at a biological level, and how this can retrigger our traumas and our shame.
[17:25] Why family visitation and the retriggering of shame and judgement is such a powerful trigger to relapse, and the strategies we can use to work with those emotions to prevent a backslide into addictive and unhealthy patterns
[18:00] Using the witness conscious to sit with our experience of loneliness and the other uncomfortable feelings that arise, and how this differs from the behaviors and unhealthy coping mechanisms of active addiction
[18:56] The Beekeeper’s Memories: Freedom from the chains of our past
[20:31] Using compassionate presence in moments of heightened arousal and emotional retriggers to uncouple the connection between memory and trauma so we can form new associations that allow us to heal
[21:30] Allowing our meditation practice to be a tool for sitting in self-compassion with our memories and our shame
[22:52] Giving ourselves permission, in spite of our cultural tendencies, to dive into the deep end of the pool and sit with our experiences instead of brushing them off or sweeping them under the rug
[23:09] Stepping outside of ourselves by reminding ourselves that we’re not alone through the practice of exploratory perspective taking with photographs and portraits, and why this practice provides a safe space to bridge into the world as a stepping stone to the more direct practice of sitting in empathy with family members
[25:18] Trauma blocks our capacity to take perspectives, drawing us deeply into a limited, first-person survival mode, and how meditation works against this tendency by strengthening our capacity to shift our viewpoint and see ourselves and our own suffering, as well as that of others, in a different light.
[26:35] How tools like Profound Releasing and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) aid in the healing process through their ability to stimulate move us through the process of memory reconsolidation to change our associations through compassionate witnessing
[27:27] The practice of deep listening and sitting with another in compassionate listening as a healing tool, and why this so effective in therapy and friendship
[28:20] Drumming in service of the music – how Steve Gadd’s approach to music can influence our practice of showing up
[29:43] How showing up with full presence and sensitivity to the “music” of others can help us navigate conversations and relationships with others of differing views and beliefs, and why this presence is essential to our shifting relationships in recovery
[31:35] What to do when we slip with presence and perspective taking, and how owning our mistakes with integrity can prevent further rifts and damaging self-condemnation
[32:27] Our tendency towards environmental isolation and grouping with others of the same “value meme”, and how we can deepen our Integral Practice and understanding of the world by stepping outside of our comfort zones and engaging mindfully with others
[33:30] How our non-stop exposure to trauma via our 21st century media-saturated lifestyles can injure and wound our psyches in powerful ways, with dire consequences to our well-being, our recovery, and our ability to fully engage with the world – especially due to the feelings of helplessness engendered by situations we cannot influence or control
[35:15] How over-indulengence in news media can lead to relapse, and the practice of bracketing our consumption in a way that allows us to stay informed about the world of which we’re all a part while diminishing the power of (and obsession that stems from) our amygdala’s response to the news
[36:52] The sense of powerlessness that accompanies our overindulgence in news media, and what we need to do make a meaningful difference in the world. How our typology can influence of behavioral tendencies around consumption of and reaction to current events and reporting
[37:35] Decoupling and disconnecting our ingrained habits of media consumption and news gathering by deliberately making different decisions; and why this process requires discipline, commitment, and self-awareness
[39:03] A call to responsible action and the importance of noticing and remembering the good in the world in opposition to our innate negativity bias.
[40:34] Recognizing the goodness in others in our day-to-day affairs and interactions with others – and why, too, we must also remember to look for the goodness and the beauty in ourselves
[40:55] How addiction prevents us from facing and owning up to both our demons and struggles and our goodness, and why integrating both is necessary for recovery and growth
[41:27] The practice of helping someone – in a big way or a small way – every single day
[42:34] The power of AA in allowing us to look at ourselves and our darkness, lies in its promotion and philosophy and practices of altruism
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09/01/2017, 45:55, 31.5 mb (Audio)
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