There is always a great attraction to the ‘magic cure’, to that one thing that will make our lives better, we so much want to believe that a solution is just there and relatively easy. Much of the power of the placebo affect is in here. And sometimes magic happens and more often it does not. There is a whole raft of solution focused therapies for psychological problems, from Tapping, EMDR, NLP, CBT, other cognitive and behavioural approaches, to all sorts of “new age” and “old age” approaches like Reiki, Herbalism, Homeopathy, etc. etc.. I’m sure that they all have their strong points and usefulness and indeed that they can occasionally have semi-miraculous effects, but the point I want to make here is that they don’t help us in making sense of ourselves and our lives. They don’t make us any wiser, they don’t answer the problems inherent in the human condition, problems inherent in finding the meaning of suffering and loss and ultimately, our death.
These therapies mostly fall into two groups, either they are body based or thought based therapies.
To me good quality counselling / psychotherapy knows that we are “three centered beings”, we are made up of heart, head and body and we can’t ultimately find any solution to our difficulties in life without the development of all three aspects of ourselves. Therapy tends to emphasise the work we need to do in developing our awareness of the difficulties in our emotional “centre” and hoping to resolve these; but we also need our thinking to become clearer and to work on understand the meaning of our lives (meaning is after all a combination of thought of feeling, and indeed embodiment too), we also need to give lots of attention to how our bodies hold and indeed ‘embody’ our whole self and its history, as well as its vital role, through sensation, of grounding us more and more in the here and now.
It is only through such a holistic approach that I believe we stand a chance of really finding a satisfying and creative life with its constantly unfolding and developing meaning.
Philosophy is important, we all have our philosophy but for most of us, to start with at least, it is just a collection of un-examined assumptions and prejudices, and it takes hard work, to work out what we really think, what values we have and how it all connects together.
The other, connected, aspect of all this is the role and importance of our choice and responsibility. Magic solutions deprive us of any agency in our own destiny. The work of knowing what motivates us and of choosing what is important to us and what we want for ourselves is an essential aspect of our journeys.
There is obviously no point in unnecessary suffering*, which is obviously rife all over the world, but on a deeply personal level I do think suffering can always have meaning if we can face it. We are after all, all going to die at some point and reconciling ourselves to that seems to me to offer the ultimate meaning for our lives. This to me is around how Being itself can become conscious, and how this can only be achieved through embracing the challenge of living more and more consciously in the here and now.
*This also brings up the issue of what accidental in our lives and what is not. But that is too large an issue to discuss here.
PS – just seen an article about a whole new class of drugs called “neuro-enhancers” and others which boost our energy and performance. They pose interesting questions and choices around the themes above; why should we settle for a mediocre life if taking something, without apparently any negative side-effects, can provide a sense of enjoying life and being the best we be, all of the time? If what we want is to feel good together with the satisfaction from achieving lots, then these drugs would seem to be the answer. What more could one want? No wonder they seem to be gaining rapid popularity.
I guess it comes down again to being able to question our motivations more and more deeply together with opening to what the meaning of our lives, and life in general, is. I still maintain that this comes from integrating our heart, head and body into an increased presence in the here and now. It is this increased consciousness that enables us to open our minds and hearts and bodies to an ever deepening experience of simply ‘being’. It supports our ongoing integration into an ever more conscious whole, that can transcend the sum of its parts.