February 25, 2002
The White Rabbit's Tips on Primal
It's your session.
You decided you needed to do something about your life. You searched through the therapeutic options. You may have even read my suggestions on how to find a therapist.
You found someone. You made an appointment and checked them out. Your therapist concluded that you are suited to the primal process. You took a few sessions to tell your story. You paid your money and now you're thinking, "How do I do this? Am I doing this right?"
You read my Thought of the Week "No Right and Wrong" (January 22, 2001) but you still feel under pressure because the time is ticking. You think, "It's fine to say there's no right and wrong, but this is my money - and I want to get well!"
Great. If you want to move the primal process forward significantly, the major shortcut is to seek out and focus on uncomfortable or painful feelings.
A paragraph from my Thought of the Week "Be a Mythic Hero" (February 4, 2002) reads:
"Unlike normal life, the Mythic Hero moves away from comfort toward discomfort - and beyond. It is the same in Primal Integration. As a Mythic Hero, you will focus on uncomfortable feelings and go toward them. As a Mythic Hero, you will ride them and transform them."
I'll speak from my experience here. In session, I find that sitting up helps me to stay "in my head" if I need to cognitively integrate an experience or keep myself from going into a feeling too quickly or too deeply. If I want to "dive" into a feeling, however, lying down with my eyes closed is best.
I will talk to my buddy or therapist about anything that is really bothering me, from physical discomfort and tension, to problematic relationships or issues. With their help, I notice and "stick with" anything that has a potential emotional charge. I know that I have to do whatever I can to allow myself to feel worse, knowing that this is the gate through which the release will come.
I continue to scan my body for that "feeling" - a tingle, a shudder, a "wince" - that indicates a wave of tears or hurt. I consciously stick with it and make movements, sounds, or say words that continue to bring it on.
Once the feeling "wave" hits, I surrender to it and just let myself cry, wail, yell, speak, or move in whatever way the feelings "need." If the feeling is still in relation to a present-day situation, I keep scanning (with the witnessing part of my mind) for any other time in my life when I felt exactly like this. If I find it, I "shift" over to expressing the feelings I never expressed at that time. When the feeling waves are done, I usually share the entire experience with my buddy or therapist in order to integrate it into my thinking brain.
For beginners, this whole process can take an hour or two, depending on the level of resistance and the depth of the material coming up. For "veterans," it can take as little as fifteen minutes to half an hour.
Classic primal process requires a certain level of trust and surrender that develops over time. But it is these healthy convulsions - the expression of what was never expressed - that we need so much.
It has always reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. This strange white rabbit appears - and you follow it down the hole.
It's your session.
When you feel ready for the adventure, follow the white rabbit.