Thursday, 6 February 2020

Eye (I) Exam




If you
Were 
Inextricably
Part of 
The whole..

As
Each of
Your 
Composite cells
Makes up
Your body...

Could you then...

Continue
To live
So decidedly
Detached..

Still convinced
Your
Indiscriminate
Individuality
Operates
In a 
Vacuum...

Rendering
The
Assaults
Of your
Choices
Benign...

Rather
Than acknowledge
Their
Reverberations
Across 
And 
Throughout
The web of
Life?

What 
Convinces you
That Life
Was bestowed
Upon you
For the
Ongoing
Generation
Of
Unimaginable
Indifference?

What
Led you 
To believe
That 
Your 
Life
Matters more
Than 
Any other
Life?

That 
Your suffering
Is beyond
That of
Any other
Living being?

That you 
Should be
Exempt
From
Carrying
Your share
Of 
The collective
Suffering?

Not then....

To run 
From

Or
Hide
Your head
Up 
Your ass..

To 
Ignore
To
Numb...

Nor
Retaliate
Condemn
Oppress
Or
Invalidate

There's
No
Plot
Scheme
or
Conspiracy
Dictating
You're
Separate... 

Take
A moment
Each day
For 
Yourself
To 
Extricate..

While
You pause
Embrace
In yourself
All that 
Screams
Desolate...

Maybe
It's not fear
Of what 
You think
That 
Has you hesitate... 

It's the ladder
You climb
The wall
You placate..

What 
If 
Your
Participation 
In 
The 
flow of life
Has been 
To 
Castrate

While
You 
Bent over 
Backwards
Creating 
An image
Designed to
Ingratiate..

Marching
Orders 
And 
Invisible drums..

Your steps
To
Placate

Death 
&
Destruction
Courted
Through
Media..

Your
Blind date


R. O'Neill (February 06, 2020)

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Introducing the Stranger in "Our" Midst

At first blush, the idea: "Know Thyself...." (assuming it was giving any value at all - rather than written off as inane "navel gazing..") it might be considered an activity, that could be achieved "toot-sweet" and then there's nothing left to know.

"What do ya mean Know Myself??" "What you see is what you get - nothing more, nothing less..." "How can I help but "know me," - I am after all ME, who would know me better than me?

If one does decide to venture down that road of self-discovery, it is soon realized, there's more to this (me) than meets the eye; & maybe, I won't be done, in time to go to lunch.

What is it that "I" believe? How were those beliefs formed? Do I still believe them? Do I have to forego them, because I encounter someone else, that believes something different? How does the culture I live in shape my beliefs? (those about the world I live in..... about myself in that world) If I don't believe, the popular consensus, that my culture holds true, about that which is said to define me, am I then, prepared to walk out the door each day, and in effect, fly in the face, of widely held social agreements, in order to be myself? If I choose conformity, why is that so? What do I gain? What do I lose?

Am I willing to stand up within "my community" and disclose that these popular beliefs hurt me (and perhaps I'm not alone in that...). If in fact I cannot expect to effect change in those around me, what will it take for me to show up as me anyway?

I used to think one "goes along to get along..." or that "go with the flow" or "not making waves" were the necessary ingredients to peaceful living... (all of which made me "easy going..") they are not & it did not (at least this is true for me)... Below these notions were, "fear of conflict," "fear of rejection," "fear of getting hurt," "fear of humiliation," (a vast array of different "voices," the harbingers of a history of trauma in my early life)..... the problem with acquiescence to these fear-ladened voices, was that it leads me to self-abandonment; which has no hope of creating inner peace. But I never would have come to realize, that all this was in operation, without employing some introspection.

If one continually looks outside themselves, for the deciding measure, of what is acceptable; this perpetuates a painful disconnection, from oneself. Also true, if all or most of ones self-assessment, is that of admonishment, self-criticism, self-hatred, endless perfectionism; then living in that skin, will be exceedingly uncomfortable, to say the least.

To muddy the water further, just because someone has this inner world of negativity and poor self-image, doesn't necessarily mean, that their out-ward presentation, is clearly indicative of their inner suffering. Compensatory ways of being, can yield individuals that rise to the top of Fortune 500 corporations - they are among societies "highest achievers." in some cases that angst and rage, is channelled into sports, where it is applauded and richly rewarded. He or she that "gallantly gives their life in the service of their country" might have been suicidal (jump off a bridge, you're a loser - absorb the explosion of a hand-grenade and you're a hero).... dead either way! Of course it is not entirely cut and dried along these lines... I'm not a proponent of war - so it is a stretch for me to discuss, beyond my belief that it is abhorrent and grossly ineffective... However, in the context of a war - I can acknowledge, that there are those that act, with great courage and heroics (albeit, I'm not convinced, they needed to, or should be there, in the first place.

Before I could begin to gain any freedom, from the dysfunction of my early life, I needed to recognize that much that I had "normalized," through my immersion in it - was in fact, patently abusive. Through all the information available these days that unpacks the different forms violence can take, I learn that many of my ways of being (i.e. sarcastic, sometimes passive/aggressive, sometimes just aggressive) are of themselves violent.That they are widely practiced and accepted in the society I live in doesn't do anything for me to grow beyond my own dysfunction. Beyond that, I learn that beliefs I formed about myself, were what would be expected; given what's known about the development of a child's psyche, and how the environment they are in, shape their beliefs. So despite beliefs to the contrary, I wasn't "broken" right from the start. Behaviours, personality etc. were formed, in order to survive in a given environment. They were at that, highly successful.

They don't however serve me in my life ongoing. They don't serve me, or my relationships. They don't serve me in my capacity, to function in the world. If every difference of opinion, or unfounded criticism or even assessment that is intended to be helpful (though every instance of such isn't necessarily automatically a "trigger") lights the fuse, of a cascade of "trauma" responses; & my "reaction," is one that has the intensity, of "fighting for my life..." (a disproportionate response to the given circumstance) this is both, not what I want for my life, and not what I want to bring, to the lives of others.

The exploration of my past is helpful, to understand, how these beliefs and ways of being, came about. There is no further intention, to blame my history or those in it. The ongoing healing work calls for a deepening of personal responsibility (not for what happened) but for the beliefs (mine), feelings, (mine), behaviours (mine). I'm not looking to wrong myself continually anymore - just to recognize, Yup that was what I did, or said...... this doesn't need to look like self-condemnation (what did I need, what was I afraid of, what did I believe was occurring at the time - what do I need to do to clean up my part?)

In honest relating - conflict is inevitable. However, assumptions, presumptions, presuppositions, dragging the past into the present (whether that involves interaction with the same person or someone that I am now "substituting" as the villain from my past - in the current sequel of my movie).... does nothing to resolve conflict... Truth be told it does nothing to sooth the hurt/discomfort in me and more often than not, creates a spiralling back-lash of shame for my behaviour. I can't remember any instance of seething self-righteousness that ever made me feel better. Quite likely because, the unmet needs are still, unmet! The dust settles and nothing has changed, except now there is a great deal more hurt added to whatever the original conflict was.

There is so much more (as Rumi indicated) in the "field that lies, between right and wrong..." So much more to feed the possibility of connection - maybe if only,  both "sides" walk away, maintaining the patency of their respective beliefs - but still somehow enriched by the honouring of each other, a new or continued connection, and not having destroyed another soul in a "no holds barred" need to be "right;" then maybe the new "norm" could be one of more consistently seeking understanding instead of "living and dying" (sometimes literally) over who's right & who's wrong.

There is a rich field of communication available to each of us (within ourselves), a life time of learning and understanding, endless layers of nuance and mystery.

This certainly is not the last word. Take a look in the mirror, who do you see? Instead of insisting you know all there is to know about them or impose what you believe to be the absolute unshakeable truth; ask he or she if there's anything they would like you to know about them.

You might be surprised by the answer.


R. O'Neill (February 05, 2020)

Thursday, 30 January 2020

A Threadbare Mosaic



The body
Politic
Whether
Waging
War
Or
Attempting
To 
Make palatable 
The 
Most putrid
Domestic
Or 
Foreign
Policy
Have at their
Disposal
Wordsmiths
Philosophical and Psychological
Consultants 
Specifically
For the
Production
And continued
Expression 
Of propaganda

Corporate enterprise
Is known
To spend
Considerably more
On marketing
Versus
Their budget 
Allotted for 
Research 
&
Development

Before
Declaring this
Abhorrent..

Morally 
&
Ethically
Wanting

What of
Joe/Joanne "average"
With their
Multi-tiered
Social-media
Meet-up
Hook-up
&
Dating app
Representation?

Nothing
But
"Sunny-side" up
"Phasars" of life
Locked on "Stunning.."
Winning
Conquering
Succeeding
Transcending
Morphing
Dream-realizing
Hurdle-leaping
Adversity-breeching
Weaving
Connections
Of Star-dusted
Twin-flamed
Soul-mated
Ecstacy
Spun
On moon-soaked
Beaches
Selfies
Splashed
Across
Ancient
Aztec altars

Light
As far
As the eye
Can see

As though
While
Asleep 
One night

The Human 
Condition
Has righted 
Itself

No
Semblance
Of
Suffering
Remains

Except 
In the 
Conveyance
Of
The
Truth


R. O'Neill (January 30, 2020)

Monday, 20 January 2020

Shadow Boxing


Through what lens
and
From where
Have you sourced
the notion

You have
Come to know
All there is
Of another?

If honest
It would be
Evident
There are
Riddles
Concerning
Your own
Being
That 
Embody
More questions
Than answers....

If the face
In the mirror
Is continually
Presenting
As an enigma...
Not a problem
To be solved
But to be 
Sure...
A multi-faceted
Mystery

How likely
Is it
That 
You successfully
Managed 
To crack 
The code
Or another?

Presuming to know 
Their 
Heart and Soul
Even 
If once
You 
Were granted
A glimpse

Consider
The limitations
Imposed..

If 
One presumed
That which
Was revealed
Holds fast
Forever more

Consider
The suffering
You have
Created 
For yourself

As long
As 
You held
Yourself
Exiled
Within
Imagery
Comprised
Of
Stifling constriction

Nobody
Can insist
That you
Release yourself

However
There doesn't 
Exist
Justifiable cause
Or 
A
Willing soul

That
Would
Knowingly
Choose
To be confined
In 
The prison
Of your
Projections

You 
May feel 
"Safer"
Facing
A "known" enemy

Only 
To discover
There
Is no
Peace 
To be 
Found
While much 
Has been 
Lost

While engaged
In
Combat
With shadows
And
Insubstantial fabrication

R. O'Neill (January 20, 2020)

Sunday, 19 January 2020

I'm Listening........

The other day I posted on "social media" the selection from a daily reader that focused on the theme of care of, and love toward, the body. As is ever increasingly my frame of reference, what I post neither implies, I have mastery, nor that the "reader" should, adopt it in its entirety.

Like many other facets of life, I have experience occupying various "positions" upon any given spectrum. In the case of care for the body, I know aspects of profound neglect, I have realized degrees of functional and general wellness "improvement," and I have over indulged; and taken my body to extremes (ironically, in the name of "wellness.")

I don't insist I know what's best for anyone. But I certainly can tell you what works for me! (except when I can't) I suppose without plying the waters of "extremes," I might not have come to have a greater sense, of where the "sweet spot" is, for me and my body.

When I say I have pushed to "extremes," those are still relative terms, directly related to my body. There are things I see people doing in video on facebook, that while I marvel at what the human body is capable of (guided of course with commitment, discipline etc.) my body will not be performing such feats!! I have no interest in taking on that which would be necessary to train in those ways. The only way I will ever be seen doing anything a kin, to some of those acrobatic type moves, will be if I've fallen down some stairs or something. Having said that a body that is more "fit," including flexibility - won't necessarily come out un-scathed in the event of an unexpected twist of fate (and spine) but it might well lessen the injury.

I was on a trajectory to increase, to some extent, my functional "flexibility...." - it's now over one year that every morning, I pay some attention to this and there has been progress made. What had become pretty much daily low-back pain, was all but gone. Even still, I don't merit the nickname "Gumby.' There are some areas of internal immobility that have been presented for me since birth... I actually don't know what is achievable now, some sixty years hence. I find it fascinating to consider now, such things as "held-trauma," intention, even a new awareness of something as simple yet the profound efficacy of the breath... Anyway, it has truly been a delight to enjoy a window of tpainfree movement..

That was until last weekend, when I attended a Nei Gong workshop which I had registered for a few months previous. I could see as the day unfolded, that even some of the "warm-up" exercises, could well be the end of me. I truly tried to perform, some form of variation, that was given the okay from my body. I released concern for the performance and flexibility of my co-participants. At least I wasn't trying to force my body into the positions they assumed...

I completed the two days.... and undoubtedly felt as though I had physically challenged myself but also, was both happy to have been able to participate "fully" and, not "hurt" myself. (so I thought)...
Perhaps it's worth mentioning, I was by a significant margin, the "oldest" in the room... which in some contexts wouldn't matter... (i.e. in cultures where these sort of practices are more "mainstream" I gather, many "seniors" can be seen, continuing their training on a daily basis. In my case, it might have been a talisman that, in the realm of such practice.... a little is a "lot..." And my idea, of taking it easy, had nothing to do with the consequences.

The group went together on the second day, to a nearby restaurant for our lunch break. The food was good... the sense of connection felt good & being "part of something" (albeit temporarily) was satisfying. I had been leaning forward in my chair, to focus my attention on some of the elements of the lunch conversation.... I went to sit back in my chair; & one side of my low back, went into spasm,  the pain caught in my throat, just short of audible expression. (a life long practice of "suffering in silence...." though yielding in some areas of my life - carried through, no one allowed to realize, I was at least in that moment, in significant pain)...

Our meal continued, I "played" with my positioning, finding a position that supported my low back and enabled the muscles to "relax."

Standing duplicated the spasm, but only in a small range of motion until I was entirely upright. I reasoned that once full erect, along with a little motion and I'd been fine. We returned to the venue, and resumed the afternoon's training sequences... Again it was challenging, some of the stretching (picture deep yoga, martial arts, dance postures) were out of the question, the existing tension in my muscles and joints simply said, "forget about it.." (never mind the newly current acute muscle responses)...

We completed the afternoon and the workshop, and I went home. I soaked in a hot tub that evening, with mineral salts etc.  Went to bed, fairly early and slept well. The next day, not only the region of my back (left lower) that was uncomfortable the day before was noticeable - the mirror opposite on the right side was now painful enough, it completely took my mind, of the left side!

As I write this it is one week later... and I'm still not "out of the woods." Through the week I have implemented some rest, (though prolonged sitting definitely isn't the answer) some gentle movement, - walking, visits to the hot tub, I even remembered, that in a drawer somewhere, I had from an impulse purchase years ago from a late night infomercial; one of those, "Dr. Ho" devices. I have been applying that intermittently... say what you will about the man or his marketing... but that machine actually is giving me relief, following an application. It all appears to be moving in a positive direction, the discomfort level is decreasing, I'm also aware of movement (joints, "popping," along my rib cage, low back and pelvis particularly on the more painful side)none of which was "available: previously .... That side was squashed when I was sixteen years old; when I (the driver), rolled a Toyota Corolla completely over, and the roof crushed down on my right side.... I'm sure there has been physiological bracing and compensation over the years along with a nervous system that became "trained" this is the new "Normal." I imagine, there's a very good change I stretched some of that out again.... The practice itself is all about moving internal energy... who knows what might have been going on at that level.... I certainly have heard, that where releasing trauma is concerned, it is not unusual to "re-experience" the pain as it is being released..." Of course there is (in my case) bound to be an element of "too much ... too soon" as well - which in my defence, I might not have been able to determine, except in painful hindsight.

It is experiencing things such as this, that I am further humbled, with respect to any notion, of what someone else needs, with respect to their wellness. I have aspirations in that direction, but I simply will not be a representation of "I know what's best...". Here I have just described, an experience, where I didn't really even know what was "best" for me.... I know complete inactivity to be counter-productive..... going over-board in compensation - less than ideal too!

As I said I have taken many things to extremes ... what I discovered in that for myself; was that I was still operating from a "more is better," "I'm no good where I'm at," "when I can do........., I'll be "better," okay, loveable .etc.... None of these, have proved to be helpful places from which to direct my "wellness."... Everything I did, was hijacked by some part of me, that never saw me as being okay, and in some cases, became the vehicle through which, I delivered self-punishment....

It has been part of my process to reveal this to myself.

There was to be a drop in group practice (yesterday), of some of what we learned last week; I elected  to pass. My body is telling me, currently, I wouldn't be able to effectively look after myself in a 1hr. practice session (given I don't really even know exactly what it was I did, to spark off all this discomfort).... As I'm writing this .... I'm sitting in a coffee shop. I just got up, walked around - did some light stretching and deep breathing into all the "painful, restricted areas." A row of vertebrae and ribs all fired off like cracking knuckles, and my back feels at ease and relaxed again. No forced movement, no straining.... just a listening in, "you've been sitting at that table writing .... long enough! get up and move!" People look up from their laptops, cross-word puzzles etc. as I go through the "motions..."

Am I looking for attention? No! Will I deny myself self-care, because it will draw attention to me? Not this time anyway!!

Maybe self-care speaks louder than one might realize. I don't need to arrive "somewhere" in order to be okay - or to walk my talk.

Though one of my chosen facets of self-care, with respect to physical wellness is "flexibility," the way to achieve that, is not through a rigid, dogmatic approach; whereby I drive myself, with unrelenting expectations and demands; that not only won't achieve flexibility, they may result in injury. In this example ... flexibility as a vision, calls for an approach, of flexibility. Yes there is a place for continuity, consistency and the "discipline," to adhere to a particular focus. Still, I don't know about anybody else's body, but mine must be, considered an active participant and consultant with regard to how to show up! It cannot or will not (without repercussions), be held hostage to a demanding regimen, that speaks of well-being, but delivers and expects quite the contrary!!


R.  O'Neill (January 19, 2020)

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Via Winter's Respite

Work with depressed men and their partners has convinced me that men’s much-vaunted fear of women and of intimacy is really not a fear of either. What men fear is subjugation. In the one up/one down, better than/less than, hierarchical world of traditional masculinity, one is either in control or controlled. Vulnerability, openness, yielding to another’s wishes-many of the requisite skills for healthy relationships- can be experienced by men as invitations to be attacked. Men’s fear of entrapment, of female engulfment, is not really about women at all. It is a transposition of a male model of interaction to the living room and the bedroom. When men fear that their women will “engulf” them, they fear that their women will act like men.

Terrence Real - from his book: "I Don't Want to Talk About It - Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression"




The labyrinthine inquiry into some of the puzzles of my life, which naturally include the sometimes dumb-founding quandaries, of the human condition; also must include at times, this exploration be under-taken ,through the lens of gender male - given that is my "assigned" gender. And, though I haven't gone out of my way to present as such, I suppose, that is what has shaped some of my worldview. I came to know of the book cited in the intro, through an avenue of Men's focused work.

I'm not writing here now, under-taking to speak universally for men - but rather, representing through my experience, the voice of this man.

There is now available, an ever growing body of knowledge, that would echo the observations and suppositions, of the opening statement. It is not my intent therefore to spend anytime upholding its veracity.

What I know without a shadow of doubt, when I read the above, about 40 mins. before beginning this post, it was like tumblers aligning in a lock - the sense of the truth of it for me, was undeniable. I knew it in my marrow.

It was one of those "aha" moments, that might well be life-changing for me, though when I step out the door tomorrow, I will appear unchanged to the world around me.

These are by many accounts, highly transformational times, the indicators of numerology (and the fact we have now entered a "New decade" astrology (full moon along with eclipse, new moon pending) even meteorological anomalies; it snowed in Victoria for God-sake!!

Personal work of my own, is seeing the "weeding of the garden" of my very early past - with an eye toward harvesting the very best of that, to be tilled into the garden of my present and  future life. There are big changes coming! I don't know all the details, but it is my intention, to push out into various new directions... there is no assurance of what exactly that will yield, but I'm going to learn something.

It is through those eyes, that I read the above, and recognized the power of what was being presented therein, to transform my relationships. Is that going to happen just through the mere reading of it. No, not necessarily. For one thing, I'm not currently in a relationship. But in reading it - instantaneously, it became superimposed upon a vision of all of my past relationships (which of course would include the one with myself) & I could suddenly see, possibility that had never occurred to me before. 

What if, I wasn't pre-supposing (if even unconsciously) that there was this "engulfment" lying in wait, around every corner? It could spell the coming of an inner armistice, a disarming of the warheads!!

I realize this idea doesn't just "erase" past trauma in the blink of an eye, but nor does avoidance of (or fearing) intimacy. There is to me, a hopefulness in having a particular programming be made visible. This might not be the "magic bullet" - but it offers to me, a significant facet of "know thyself."

As I am writing this from the perspective of personal revelation and accountability; I won't speak at all, to the specific real or imagined, "control" energies of anyone else, other than to say, they do occur.

I also generally don't know specifically who reads these blogs of mine. So in that regard, this isn't the forum, to make amends to anyone in particular. However, when I consider the way the above conditioning, as played out through my specific persona in the world - it becomes clear to me, I owe amends to a great many people, that I have encountered in my life time.

On the one hand, I didn't know what I didn't know, until I did. Just the same, I feel some sadness around how this has impacted my Interactions; and resolve toward, a continued responsibility and accountability, in my relating and relationships.


R. O'Neill (January 15, 2020)



Monday, 6 January 2020

Pardon Me



How 
Bittersweet
To
Awaken
One morn
The 
Sunlight
Penetrated
The bars
Of 
The cell
One has
Languished in
For
A life time

Light
Reaches in
Through
The window

Not of itself
Unusual
In truth
A
Daily occurrence


However today
The refraction
The reflection
The shadow
All occur
Uniquely
Offering
Seeing
Newly

Good news!!
Your
Clemency
Is
Pending
On 
Your
Willingness
To
Swing open
The door

The 
Key
Has been
Under your
Pillow
All along

One
Wonders
Just 
How completely
(and if)
One
Can now
Extricate themselves
From
That which
Is as
Close
As the
Next breath

While
So seductively
Familiar
As to be
Potentially
Terminal

How much
Bearing
Can
Esoteric conjecture
Have upon
Conditioned eyes?

How to
Navigate
This 
Implied liberation
In a 
Society
Built
On agreements
Perpetuating 
Disconnection

Elevating
To 
The pedestal
The fiction
Of 
Doing
And
Worshipping
The God
Of productivity

Key
In hand
The
Doorway
Vanishes
To issue
An invitation

The
Greatest hurdle
Is not
To be
The disdain
He is
So sure
Awaits him
On the
Outside

Solitary
Confinement
Did nothing
To
Convince him
He was
In
Good company

Freedom
Will
Only become
Complete
If
He is willing
To
Love and forgive
Himself

To
And
Without
An
End


R. O'Neill (January 06, 2020)