Using Eye Movements in Therapy
Have you ever felt unsure as to whether you were dreaming or awake? How about whether what you thought you were seeing was really there? In truth, we all feel like this at times. And even if all you that baffled you was an odd sounding noise or a hand and finger shadow rabbit, reality can be quite an elusive thing. Especially when you are deeply engrossed in something. A movie. An infatuation. A deep sleep or a dream. In this, the final episode of Plain Talk about Talk Therapy then, we're going to explore the experience we claim we are looking for in talk therapy. Reality. And how what we visualize affects our perception of it. Are you sure what you saw in the shadows was not the boogie man? How can you be sure? Are you really sure? Let's see.
"Getting a Little Movement"
One of the more lasting conversations I've had in recent years was with a man named Tony. Tony is a chiropractor. At the time, I was on his table and had asked him what he looks for when he is adjusting people. His answer? He told me that all he tries to do is to "get a little movement."
Know this chiropractor is one of the smartest men I know when it comes to body mechanics. He also has a masters degree in engineering and extensive training in nutrition. Thus the simplicity of his comment surprised me. What stayed with me though and what has continued to amaze me is how Tony's comment so points to the strong parallels which exist between our two professions. And yes, the focus of our practices is obviously different; Tony focuses on the body and I, on the mind. Even so, when you boil down what we do to its simplest forms, our underlying goals are the same; we both look to get a little movement. Tony, in the body. And me, in the mind.
Where am I going with all this? It turns out that movement is one of the best ways to gauge peoples' progress in therapy. It is also one of the best ways to learn to see the mind body connection. Unfortunately, even knowing this may not enable you to see this movement. Why? Because while most people find it easy to see how the laws of physics apply to physical movement, for the most part, seeing how they apply to what is going on in the mind is not so easy. Unless of course you understand what I've drawn in this episode's diagram; how the laws of physics intersect at the plane of the eye. In which case, seeing how the mind and body connect is a no brainer. No pun intended.
What does this diagram represent?
Start with this. Instead of focusing on testing for yourself whether these ideas are true, try clearing the workspace in your mind the same way you might clear a physical workspace. Next consider what it is we are about to explore. We are going to explore the mind body connection. How? By exploring how the laws of physics intersect at the plane of the eye.
What skills will we need? We'll obviously need to know a few things about how the laws of physics work. A few of the more basic concepts. Including that all laws in physics can be reduced to one rather deceptively simple category of statements; they are all descriptions of how something moving in time and space relates to and effects other things.
How do these descriptions reveal the mind body connection? It turns out that because our physical sensations are the source of much of what we mentally envision and imagine, that what we envision and imagine is governed by the same laws which govern these sensations. The laws of physics. Thus even when we imagine doing things which supersede the laws of physics, such as when we dream of flying and such, because we are being guided in part by what we physically sense, these laws still apply.
So yes. The laws of physics affect everything. Even what we dream. Not such a hard concept to take in really. What complicates this though is the idea that this process occurs in reverse as well; what we imagine creates sensation. Thus, no matter what we imagine, these imaginings create sensations. And because they do, the laws of physics govern even our imaginings.
This is why hearing a strange noise in the night may convince us someone is in the house. We get awakened by what we believe to be an actual noise. Then we imagine a stranger is in the house. Of course, then, as we strain to discern what it is we are hearing, our imaginations create more physical sensations in us. All of which combine and interact until we become unable to know fantasy from reality.
Here then is the main thing which makes it hard for us to test for reality. Even in talk therapy. Because sensation creates the mind and the mind creates sensation, we can have a heck of a hard time determining what is real. Both out in life and in the world of the therapy room. And lest you think this difficulty is limited to what we experience in our minds and bodies, please know this idea is one of the more debated ideas in science; to what degree does what we think affect the world around us. Including the laws of physics.
The good news though is that there are things we can know with certainty. Including about the laws of physics. The main thing being that these laws are what connect the body and the mind. Which is why you have heard me repeatedly call these laws, the psychophysical laws. Or the "mind body" laws if you will.
What makes this idea so important? Talk therapy claims to be helping us to know reality. Yet in general, talk therapy seems to ignore these laws. This despite the fact that if we accept that these two worlds; the world of the body and the world of the mind, are governed by the same set of laws, then we can begin to measure reality simply by measuring the degree to which the body and mind parallel each other's movements over time.
Not sure of what I'm saying here? I'm saying that while we experience our minds and bodies differently in many ways, in one aspect they never differ. They both ground themselves in physical sensation. Thus they both follow the same laws with regard to space, time, and movement. Moreover, the easiest way to measure this sameness is to observe the timing of when you sense things moving in space. In the body; physically. And in the mind; psychologically.
Interestingly enough, while this idea does not appear in writing until 1860 (Elemente der Psychophysik, Gustav Theodor Fechner, 1860), we can find this same parallel implied in writing several thousand years earlier. In what has become one of the most recanted wisdom's of all times; "as above, so below."
Not familiar with this saying? It is said to have come from something called the Emerald Tablet and is the core wisdom of a philosophy in existence around the time of Jesus. Hermetic Philosophy.
What is the Emerald Tablet? According to legend, it is a tablet said to have been discovered in a cave tomb clutched in the hands of the corpse of Hermes Trismegistus, an Egyptian priest and sage reputed to have been be one of the wisest men of antiquity. Legends differ on who discovered this tablet. One says it was Sarah, the wife of Abraham. Another says it was Apollonius of Tyana. Whatever the case, this tablet was supposed to contain the magical secrets of the entire universe. Inscribed in Phoenician. Unfortunately, while several Arabic translations exist and a Latin translation from about, 1200 AD, none of these translations are identical and little on the Tablet appears to make sense.
Why mention this legendary tablet? Because this saying, "as above, so below," does indeed state one of the deepest secrets in our universe. What? The essential quality of what I see to be the consummate test for truth. The idea I refer to as "fractility."
What is fractility? My definition? It is a quality by which something has a geometrically recognizable pattern or patterns which always repeat differently regardless of scale. As opposed to the essential quality of linear geometry wherein something has a geometrically recognizable pattern or patterns which always repeat identically regardless of scale.
Why mention fractility? Because this episode focuses on how we can know reality. And in our world, fractility is the only authentic test for truth. Thus if an idea is fractal, then it is one hundred percent true. Every oak leaf is a true oak leaf. Every snow flake a snow flake. Whereas if an idea is not fractal, while it may contain a partial truth, at best, it is only partially true. Thus a person may test as competent by getting all A's in school. Yet this same person may be unable to translate any of this into real world skills.
Okay. So if something has fractility, we can know it to be one hundred percent true. And if it does not then we can know that it is at least partially untrue. Doesn't the partial truth contained therein have value though?
Actually, other than as a coarse test for truth, most times, this kind of knowing is less valuable than being certain you know nothing. Why? Because you cannot know for sure which part is true and which is not.
Now take a minute to let this idea sink in.
Now let's come at this from a different angle.
We know with certainty that nothing which occurs in the natural world occurs in a linear fashion. For example, there are no naturally occurring straight lines. Nor are there any naturally occurring perfect geometric shapes. Despite our knowing this with certainty though, oddly, we continue to use linearity as the test for truth in everything from our sciences to our psychologies.
How does the saying, "as above, so below," apply to all this?
It turns out that the parallel I've been referring to throughout the book; the one between our bodies and our minds, is the only linearity in our world. To wit, there is a linear relationship between the laws which govern our physical world and the laws which govern our psyches. In other words, as go the laws which govern the world at large, so go the laws which govern us. Thus, as above, so below.
This means when we say in physics that time is relative to the observer, we are not only saying that moving at close to the speed of light changes how physical time passes. We are also saying that our sense of how long it takes for things to change inside us can vary. For example when astrophysicists posit how we might actually time travel, they are exploring relativity. And when we say there are times wherein being in love makes a minute feel like an hour and an hour feel like a minute, we are referring to the same laws.
Likewise, when we say in physics that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, we are referring to one of the more basic laws of our physical world. But when we say this, we might as well be saying that the laws of karma apply to physics, as in, what goes around, comes around, both for objects and for us.
Why makes such a big deal out of this parallel in a book on talk therapy? Just this. If you rely on a psychological truth for your means to get to know someone, then you are doomed to failure. Why? Because you are assuming the same linearity which makes most sciences fail more than succeed. However, if you learn the laws of physics and then seek parallel images for these laws in peoples' minds and bodies, then you'll be on a path which at least in theory can lead to truly knowing them. And everything else about reality and human nature.
What would be the best way to get onto this path? As I said, by using the laws of physics to find the parallels in how things move over time. Beginning with the first half of this cycle. How noticing physical movement leads to our thoughts and feelings.
In other words, the first thing to master in your journey toward knowing how reality works is to learn how noticing sensation (becoming aware of physical movement) affects what you think and feel. Moreover, this entire mastery begins with one simple idea; knowing how the two worlds, the world of the mind and the world of the body, intersect at the plane of the eye.
Do you think you know how this works already? You may. Just the same, let's look together.
The Psychophysical Nature of Movement
How does noticing sensation in our bodies (physical movement) affect our thoughts and feelings? Let's start with a brief review of what we know about the mind body connection, beginning with that the mind body connection is not really a connection. It is actually a continuum, just as Spinoza said it was. However, because the part which overlaps occurs below the threshold of our sensory perception, we experience the mind and body just as Descartes said we do, as two separate and distinct experiences.
Add to this that because the mind and body are actually two aspects of one continuum, that Descartes was right in that the mind and body each interact with each other as well; the body influencing the mind, and the mind, the body.
Now add to this the two ideas which carry these concepts into the physical world.
The first idea is that our experience of this continuum, from thoughts to feelings, derives from what we sense along a physical continuum which extends from the top of our heads to the base our spines. Here, by what we sense, I mean all the physical sensations we can possibly notice, including not only the five observable physical sensations but also intuition, which in essence means the less than measurable occurrences of these physical sensations. Those slightly there, slightly not there sensations, such as when we sense someone is standing behind us or is staring at us from across a room.
How then do these sensations become thoughts and feelings? Through one process and one alone. By our noticing them. Thus by noticing the physical sensations which occur along this vertical column, we convert unobserved physical sensation into observed physical sensation, and it is this observed physical sensation we refer to as thoughts and feelings.
How do these observed physical sensations differentiate into thoughts and feelings? Very simple. The speed at which we perceive these sensations determines how we perceive them. In other words, the faster we sample these physical sensations, the more we refer to these observed sensations as thought. And the slower we sample these physical sensations, the more we refer to these observed sensations as feelings.
Would you like to test this for yourself? You can. Simply speak to someone while deliberately varying the speed at which you are speaking. If you do, what you will find is that the faster you speak, the higher in the body the person will perceive this sensation being observed. Conversely, the slower you speak, the lower in the body the person will perceive this sensation being observed.
In addition, if you reverse this process and have someone speak to you at a very rapid pace, you may feel urges to physically look up. This is an involuntary reaction most people have which reflects our intuitive sense of where in our bodies we are observing this sensation. As sensation in our heads. And as what. As thoughts. Which is why, when we are asked what we think, we look up.
Conversely if you have someone speak to you at an exceedingly slow pace, you may find yourself physically looking down. Again, this is an involuntary action which reflects our intuitive sense of where we are observing this sensation as well. And as what. As feelings. Which is why, when we are asked what we feel, we often look down.
Now if you wish to further test this hypothesis, simply try to looking down while someone asks you what you think. Or try looking up while someone asks what you feel. In either case, you will feel what practitioners of NLP learn to recognize all too well; that the body and the mind psychophysically parallel each other to such a degree as to be useful as a tool in the course of healing; change the person's physical motion and you challenge the person's psychological patterns.
Want to test this idea even more? Try saying something very meaningful to a close personal friend and while you do, deliberately slow down the speed at which you are saying this thing. What you will find is, the slower you say these words, the more the both of you will feel emotion. Possibly even to the point of becoming overwhelmingly unpleasant.
Now try saying this same personal thing to this same personal friend, only this time deliberately say it as fast as you can. What you will find is that the personal meaning of these words will have dissipated into thin air, perhaps to the point wherein you feel there is no longer any personal meaning. This despite the fact that contextually, this meaning will still exist.
For example, try telling your significant other that you love him or her and while you do, deliberately vary the speed at which you are saying this, first slower, then quicker. Here what you will find is that the slower you say these words, the less able the person will be to discern the logical meaning present, while at the same time, feeling more emotion. Conversely, the faster you say these words, the more able the person will be to discern the logical meaning present while at the same time, feeling less emotion.
The point? The only thing being varied here is the speed at which you are saying these words. Logically the content and intent will be the same. Despite this sameness however, what you will observe is that your experience of this communication will change from thoughts to feelings and or feelings to thoughts. All this simply because you have varied the speed at which you were noticing the sensations present; e.g. the speed at which what you saw, heard, and so on, occurred.
Finally, we need to add to all this one important point. That the converse is also true; that the mind can create sensation in the body. This, in fact, is one of the more important things to remember about the mind body connection. Why? Because despite this being an obvious truth, most current neurological researchers act as if this interaction does not exist. Or at least that they can observe and separate what is physical in origin from what is psychological in origin.
To recap then, what I'm saying is:
- All thoughts and feelings begin life as physical sensations which occur at some specific height with regard to the primary vertical nervous system. This system extends from the top of the head, including the brain, through the enteric nervous system, to the base of the spine. Thus, this vertical column roughly describes the same path referred to in the ancient Ayurvedic system of medicine as the chakras.
- What we refer to as thoughts and feelings then occur whenever we notice these physical sensations. Including that the speed at which we do this noticing determines which of these things we will experience; faster noticing resulting in thoughts, slower, in feelings.
- The mind then interacts with this whole process in a chicken and egg fashion by, in and of itself, creating physical sensations through our imaginings. Which, if then noticed, then generate more thoughts and feelings, again based on the speed at which we notice the sensations generated.
- Finally, stated as the ideas of the four philosophers, we can say several things. One, that Descartes was right in that we experience the mind and body as two separate and distinct things, both of which interact with the other. Two, that Spinoza was right in that the mind and body literally are two aspects of the same continuum. Three, that to see these two things as true, we must apply Herbart's idea that we have a threshold of sensory perception, above which we perceive Descartes as being right, and below which we find that Spinoza was also right. And four, that Leibniz was right in that our sense of time is what creates movement along this continuum, in that the faster we notice sensations, the more we experience them as thoughts, and the slower we notice sensation, the more we experience them as feelings.
All this said, so how does sensing more sensation in our bodies (physical movement) affect our thoughts and feelings? The more we notice physical sensation, the lower in the body we sense it. And the lower in the body we notice this sensation, the less we experience it as thought and the more we experience it as feeling. Which is to say emotion, spiritual experience, and or warm fuzziness.
The Benefits of Knowing a Mind Body Reality
Okay. So the speed at which we notice sensation moving in our bodies determines whether we classify our internal responses as thoughts or feelings. But what do we gain by knowing this and how does this benefit us in talk therapy?
Confidence Regarding the Naming of Your Thoughts and Feelings
Much of this episode has focused on how we can know an external reality. But what about knowing your internal reality. For instance, have you ever sat in a therapist's office and felt unsure of the reality of your own thoughts and feelings? Seriously. Try it now. Can you confidently name what you are emotionally experiencing right now? With certainty? Are you sure?
Most folks cannot do this with authority and be in their bodies. Especially in a therapist's office. With their heads alone? Maybe. But in their bodies? Not with confidence.
This begins to change the minute you teach people how to read their bodies. Why? Because they now have an empirical sense of where thoughts and feelings come from. A literal, hold it in your hand sense which they can consult when in doubt. And not just a vague and nebulous sense which dissipates as soon as someone says, "are you sure?"
Granted, having the right words for your thoughts and feelings may take a bit of getting used to. After all, most people have been guessing at these words for as long as they have been talking. However, given the help and encouragement to find their own words for these thoughts and feelings, this one benefit alone may make all the work worthwhile.
Confidence Regarding the Experiencing of Your Thoughts and Feelings
Another benefit is that people now have a good way to test for whether they are actually feeling things. And thinking things. How? By speaking these ideas and then watching for corresponding sensations. Thus, if someone says she is feeling angry but she senses no physical sensations, then in all likelihood this person is logically arriving at this statement. And not feeling much of anything. Conversely, if someone says she is sure she is a good person and reports feeling this in her gut, then in all likelihood, she is indeed feeling this. Or something akin to this feeling.
Even more important, we often feel ambivalent regarding important situations and ideas. Moreover, this ambivalence is often rooted in a mind body disagreement; the head says one thing and the heart, another. In these times then, knowing with certainty what you think and feel is usually pretty difficult. Especially when a therapist is asking you for what seems to be a definitive answer.
This changes when you know to test your body for sensation. Into what? Into knowing with certainty that you feel ambivalent. And lest you see this as not much of a gain, realize that healthy human beings rarely feel a lack of ambivalence. More so with important issues, such as raising children, feelings of love, and whether you are in the right career.
Confidence Regarding the Reality of Your Thoughts and Feelings
This then brings us to the point of the episode; how can you know with certainty that what you think you see, hear, think, and feel is real? The real answer? Most times, you can't. However, the worst part of this experience is not that you cannot know. Rather it is not being sure that you cannot know.
Knowing you are uncertain means you can confidently say that. Rather than having to dance around an issue or having to force an answer. Thus, dancing around an issue begins to feel wrong as you know with certainty that you are doing this. And having to force an answer fells wrong because you know with certainty this is what you are doing as well.
What do you say? For one thing, you say these two things. What? That you feel like dancing around the issue and or that you feel like you need to force and answer. Then what? Then you let it go for now, knowing with certainty you are not ready to offer an answer. More important, being able to do this without feeling dumb means you will feel more desire to revisit this issue at a later time.
Confidence Out in the World at Large
Ever ventured an opinion in a group only to find your opinion unpopular? At least with this group of folks. For many people this is quite the awkward moment. Why? Because your sense of reality is being seriously challenged. Personally. Socially. Up front and live. How then do most folks respond to these situations? Usually by defaulting to one end of the confidence scale or the other.
What I mean is, when publicly exposed as having an unpopular opinion, most folks will either seriously back peddle and be completely yin or seriously dig in and be completely yang. Either response has little to do with confidence or the lack thereof.
Being able to read one's body renders these two extremes unnecessary. You simply know your own opinion. Thus while you may choose to do the socially acceptable thing and graciously avoid being limp or harsh, this choice will not result from your getting defensive or feeling small. Something most folks do which then erodes their public confidence.
As this changes though, not only will you feel more confident. People will feel more confident asking you things. And yes, they may disagree and hold to this. But if you feel confident, you will more enjoy these discussions rather than feel them as difficult or awkward.
The Psychophysical Teaching Process
So what would be a good way to teach this skill to people?
The Speak and Vary Method
One of the best ways I know is a method I have already mentioned; the speak and vary method. This consists entirely of being spoken to while the speaker varies the speed at which they say the words to you.
What is the object here? There are two actually. One. For the person being spoken to, to learn to recognize and feel in his or her body how hearing words spoken at different speeds alters where in the body he or she feels these sensations. And two. For the person doing the speaking to learn to see this occurring in others.
The point here of course is to see how altering the speed of attempt made to connect to others alters your success rate. Thus, if you are a therapist and have a couple who are having a difficult time hearing each other, you can use the speak and vary method to introduce a crisis of healing. An experience which feels so different to these two people that they are forced, by the nature of the very situation, to realize how much they usually do not hear each other.
Eye to Eye Walks
Yet another good way would be to teach the people to recognize how sensation affects their ability to think and feel is something I call, "eye to eye walks." What do you do? It's simple. You begin by standing at some distance from a person while making good steady eye contact. Now walk in increments toward this person while maintaining the eye contact. Walk. Then pause and check in with how you feel. Now walk again. Then pause again, and so on.
In other words, stand a good distance apart and make eye contact. Now slowly close the distance a bit while maintaining this eye contact. Now stop. Now ask the person to notice how this changed his or her threshold of sensory perception. And lowered, vertical height wise, where in the body this sensation occurred.
Now repeat this walk and stand several times, each time closing the distance. Then do the whole thing in reverse, by moving further away.
What will you learn to see? That if you walk toward someone and make continuous eye contact, that both you and this person will experience a noticeable increase in intimacy. Which is to say, you will feel a noticeable increase in your personal connection. Then if you maintain this eye contact and then incrementally back away, you will experience this same thing only in reverse. You will feel a noticeable decrease in intimacy. That is to say, a noticeable decrease in your personal connection.
Not sure what the big deal is here? For instance, what exactly does this show? That there is a direct correlation between the physical distance between two people making eye contact and the psychological distance these two people feel to each other. Moreover, while we cannot predict what people will think or feel nor whether these changes will affect us positively or negatively, nonetheless, we can observe that what does result will follow a well known law of physics; the inverse square law.
What is the inverse square law? It is an oft quoted law in physics. In reality though, it is not actually a law. It is a "meta law."
What is a meta law? It is a quality which is found in many other laws. Which, if you have begun to grasp what fractility is, means this law is itself a fractal.
In this case then, the inverse square law is actually a quality found within several other laws of physics. Where does this meta law show up? In any law of physics which states that some physical quantity or strength is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source of that physical quantity. Including the laws with describe gravity, electromagnetism, light and electromagnetic radiation, and acoustics.
And in psychology? How does it occur in people?
It occurs in our minds and in our bodies every time we vary the physical distance between us and another person while at the same time noticing this distance change. Thus, for every increment of halving the distance, we will feel a four fold increase in personal intimacy. All the way up to and including an uncomfortable increase.
This then is a perfect example wherein the laws of physics and the laws of psychology parallel each other. The quality I've been referring to as being psychophysical. In other words, the changes in distance we experience internally directly interact with the changes in distance we experience externally. As well as parallel each other. Hence my calling them psychophysical.
This experience in fact is what I've drawn in this episode's drawing. That in effect, the mind and body intersect at the plane of the eye. Moreover, that as we notice physical distance changing, both out in front of us and within our mind, that our experiences of intimacy change inversely square to how this physical distance changes. Including the changes in physical distance we only imagine are happening.
For example, if you fear heights, your fear will increase four times each time you halve the distance from the edge you fear. Moreover, this kind of change can occur even if you only imagine making these changes. Thus if you double the physical distance you are from this edge, whether physically or psychologically, then you will decrease your fear by a factor of four each time. Here again, because of the laws of psychophysics, this reality will change regardless of which of your realities changes. Your physical reality or your psychological reality.
Likewise feelings of love. Thus if you recently fell in love and see the object of your love approaching, then each time she halves the distance between you two, you will incur four times the physical sensations in you body. Ergo the heart pounding, racing thoughts, and breathing problems we feel in these situations. On the other hand, once this movement ceases and you adjust to the distance between you two, much of this psychophysical sensation will cease to exist. Along with the thoughts and feelings generated by our having noticed this movement.
Now consider why this sensation ceases to exist. It ceases to exist because sensation is a response to movement, not measurement. In other words, if something is not moving, we rapidly lose our ability to gauge this thing. Thus if you stare at one of you out held fingers while holding both your eyes and this finger still, within less than a moment, you will cease to be able to see this finger as it dissolves into thin air.
Why does this happen? Because the laws of psychophysics; psychology plus physics, apply only to things which move in space and time. And not to people, places, and things which we cannot sense movement in.
Of the ideas I've presented in this book, this one is surely in the top five. Especially when what you are trying to achieve is the measure of the reality of something. For instance take the speak and vary method. The one I've previously mentioned wherein you vary the speed at which you speak and then watch how this affects a person's ability to think and feel. Here, by speeding up the rate at which you speak to another person, you cause them to increasingly experience your words as thoughts. Conversely, by slowing down the rate at which you speak to another person, you cause them to increasingly experience your words as feelings.
So what causes these changes? Very simply, the direction of the movement we sense. Faster is thought. Slower is feeling.
But don't we experience these two things even when we are speaking at a steady speed?
Yes. But even here, things are changing, both verbally; in the intonation, pitch, speed, inflection, and so on we witness, and non verbally; in what we see of the person's eyes, mouth, tilt of the head, observed tightness, and so on.
The thing to notice here is how this simple behavior; speak and vary, includes bidirectional examples of psychophysics in action. Examples of how the mind affects the body and the body, the mind. Thus by physically altering the speed at which we speak to another person, we psychologically alter their interpretations of what we are saying. And by the mere act of our noticing how these changes affect this other person, we alter our ability to make these physical changes.
In other words, by varying the rate at which sound emanates from our mouths we get to see how a purely physical thing directly affects our internal psychological interpretations of what these sounds mean. In the most general of senses of this experience; from thoughts to feelings. And conversely, by noticing how our psychological interpretations vary, we get to see how our psyche directly affects our ability to move physically. Lips. Tongue. Breath, and so on.
In addition, we get to see that once this general orientation is set (the tendency to experience words as thought provoking, feeling provoking, or neither) that we tend to remain within this orientation unless or until some significant movement sends our body and psyche in the opposite direction.
In this case, we see an example of one of the most basic laws of psychophysics in action. How Newton's first law of motion applies equally to both physical objects and to people. His first law? An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
Now consider our speak and vary example and notice how this law of physics so parallels our inner psychological responses. So much so that we could say with certainty that we tend to experience steady physical sensations not changing direction (sensations at rest) as either all thoughts or as all feelings. Unless and until we experience a change in how these words are being expressed (the unbalancing force).
Conversely we tend to experience changing physical sensations (sensation not at rest) as an unknowable mix of thoughts and feelings, unless and until we experience these changes in movement stopping.
All this said, the main thing to see here is how these two purely personal mind body experiences; our external and internal senses of life, directly affect our ability to test for reality. How? We see that how we experience even clearly spoken words alters our ability experience both physical sensations in our body and psychological sensations in our psyche. In effect, causing us to experience different psychophysical sensations. Or a lack thereof, depending on the speed at which these words are spoken.
Applied to tests for reality then, we see how important it is to use the speed of observation as the primary tool in reality testing. Both by keeping it steady and observing these results, and by varying the observation speed and seeing how that affects the results.
Walking the Walk in Talk Therapy
How then can you use this increased ability to notice sensation to better experience talk therapy? For one thing, you can begin each session with a psychophysical inventory. Get in your body. Notice your body. Now notice your therapist's body. Now notice the room.
Now expand your noticing to beyond what is happening in your two bodies. Notice the colors in the room. Notice the temperature of the air. Notice the sounds going on outside and the smells if any near you. Notice the pleasantness or unpleasantness of your surroundings including anything you normally avoid looking at.
Now notice once again what is happening in your body. Notice your stomach full to growling. Notice your back, supported to strained. Notice your butt on the seat; your breath in your nose; your eyes blinking slowly; your gut tight or loose.
Now notice your ribs and fingers and stretching toes. And cloth on skin.
Now say out loud what you would like to explore and try to hear these words in your body. What is it you would like to know more about in this hour? What is it you will try to sense while varying the speed of your observations?
Remember too to notice when you lose your sense of physical body movement. Blankness is the primary quality present in all human injury. Physically and psychologically speaking. Thus, you should in every therapy session notice blankness. Which is after all merely the experience of observing the absence of movement.
Yes, I know. I said "when" not "if." Thus you will lose your sense of physical movement. Over and over again. Moreover, rather than this being a flaw or fault, this is easily the most valuable clue to where you are not in touch with reality. Blankness is what we experience when we experience the lack of movement. Hence Janet's referring to injuries as "fixed ideas." Fixed. As in, not moving.
An additional thing to watch for is the times wherein you try not to go blank. In other words, the more you try to not lose you sense of movement, the less you will be able to think. And speak. And feel like yourself. And know with confidence what you see as reality.
Finally, know that learning to do all this will, not may, be incredibly hard. At least at first. And that on bad days you will feel so confused you do not know what you think or feel. And on good days you will see changes in your levels of certainty you never dreamed possible.
Moreover, it may take you up to six months before you become able to integrate this increased sensory input into your normal relationship to your therapist. Know the main thing to watch for here is that in order for any of this to work, your therapist must be doing this right along with you. Thus he or she must participate in this with you, as an equal, for this to work. If not, then you need to think about getting yourself a new therapist. A human being becoming and not a human observing being.
Finally, please accept my apologies for not documenting this process in greater detail. Know I felt urges to try to do this but my body told me otherwise; that you must learn to do this on your own. That parroting will never suffice. Thus to tell you what to do would be to limit your greatness. In this, I will defer to what is in you already.
This Episode's Session Notes
Have I provoked more questions in this book than I have answered? My wish? I certainly hope so. After all, my stated intention here has been to awaken a curiosity in you as to how talk therapy works. Specifically with regard to how the mind body connection affects our ability to do talk therapy. As well as how talk therapy can improve our ability to notice the mind body connection itself and in doing so, improve our ability to test for reality. Including in everything from our relationships with other people to our sense of the world at large.
In all this, I've repeatedly referred to what I've come to see as the test for truth; fractility. And in the introduction, I told you how I came to feel this way; that as a man who has "fussy disease," more commonly known as Asperger's, I had no way to test for truth. In effect, because I defaulted to the same test for truth every other human being uses; linearity, and because I kept finding more and more flaws in our attempts to make our natural world linear, I constantly felt at a loss as to how to know what was true and what was not.
Add to this that I grew up with a schizophrenic mom and my ability to test for reality in relationships was pretty much Sfasciato. A word from my Italian heritage meaning, "broken in pieces."
The thing is, broken in pieces does not mean bad or destroyed. Moreover, these pieces, artfully reassembled, became the beautiful tapestry I've introduced in this book as Emergence Personality Theory. The world's first fully fractal theory of personality. And the first to blamelessly describe human nature.
What good does this theory do though if it cannot be accessed? My answer? None at all. Which is why I've invested these many hours in trying to introduce to you few of the ways in which I myself use these ideas.
In the end, as I've inferred many times, what you get will be inversely proportionate to what you are willing to admit to not knowing. Yet another of the things the inverse square law applies to. Thus, to admit you are out of touch with how your body creates your mind and vise versa will be to open the door on the greatest path to enlightenment of all; the solution to the mystery of how the mind and body connect. Within you. And between you and the rest of your world.
In all this, I wish you only the finest of successes. Along with the admission that I am still here, right along side all of you. Still learning to see and love the darkness in myself. And the light. Still looking for the words with which to pass what I know.
Is there more to tell. There certainly is, Ollie. However, for now, our journey together is at an end.
Until my next book anyway.
Until then, I hope you are well,