14 Jan 07

Psychotherapy with Dr. O’Malley (8)

Dr. O read my homework: my awareness of who I was and who I’m going to be.

I was:
Immature. Hedonistic. Materialistic. Nihilistic. A philistine. Sometimes selfish. Sometimes overgenerous. Smart in some ways and naïve in others. Hard working. Prone to mood swings from depression to euphoria. Goal orientated, albeit grandiose. Sometimes extremely focussed, other times devil-may-care. A sexaholic. A party person. A thrill seeker. Sometimes mellow and reserved when sober, othertimes happy hypomanic.

I’m going to be:
More mature. A better reasoner. Goal and success orientated without ostentation. More fulfilled via writing, yoga, philosophy, music, healthy relationships. Less naïve about certain things and more knowledgeable. Generous to the right people. Able to cope with and manage mood extremes. More cultured. Motivated, but not in an unhealthy fashion. Hard working. Optimistic. More skillful, and more able to apply myself without messing up.

“From what you’ve written, you’ve identified the vast fluctuations between your emotional extremes. A hard worker versus devil-may-care. Depression versus euphoria. The way you over respond into grandiosity. The way you under respond into depression. You need to remain mindful of your polar opposites. As you tend toward one pole, pressure builds and you explode. Toward the other pole, pressure builds and you get depressed. Consider a water bottle at 5000 feet. You empty the bottle and seal the cap. At 14,000 feet pressure on the inside will expand the bottle and make a violent explosion. At sea level, with atmospheric pressure of 101,325 pascals the bottle is fine, but plunge the bottle deep into the ocean and it is crushed flat.”
“Good analogy,” I said.
“You need a constant awareness of how you interact with the environment. It’s the same as what you do during yoga. There’s an expansiveness into your environment, into the universe. If your alignment and breathing are right, you’re having a good experience that’s not for the glory of you. Don’t get caught up in ambition. Constantly remind yourself of this. Don’t be too front focussed. In yoga, the front is you, and your back is the universal. That’s what the back-orientated friend-of-the-universe pose is about. Lean back into things, and your universe will open and expand.”
“Can’t ambition and success be compatible with yoga philosophy?”
“Yes. When awareness goes with it. Look at B.K.S. Iyengar, author of Light on Life.”
“The yoga master with the huge eyebrows who's always smiling?”
“Yes. When he goes on tour, he’s expansive. He has a happy presence, but it’s not him.”
“What do you mean it’s not him? Who is it then?”
“It represents energy. Compare Iyengar’s behaviour to the actions of a politician. A politician’s actions are about the person’s ego. If you don’t recognise the politician, he or she ceases to exist. Compare a politician with the Dalai Lama, a person who represents universal consciousness. What’s contained within the Dalai Lama isn’t ego and the individual - it’s energy much larger than the person. It dwarfs the average politician.”
“The politician’s aura is sleazy and shallow.”
“Yes, but other people project something real. Cultivate that.”
“Isn’t that a goal in itself?”
“I don’t know. Should there be a goal on the path you are designating for yourself? The only thing that matters is to keep doing it. A goal implies potential failure. It’s better to break the task into little pieces. Alignment. Breathing. Awareness of now. Sense of contentment. Think in terms of what’s going on here and now, right at this moment. Not in terms of, ‘In four hours I’m hosting a meeting where VIPs are going to recognise me and pat me on the back.’ Don’t be seduced by thinking you are bigger than you are.”
“What if I have big goals to make some positive changes in the world?”
“Mother Teresa had to be hardnosed to help the poor of Calcutta. She didn’t do it to win the Nobel Peace Price. Her goal was to help others. Having big goals to help others is a good way to direct your energy. By all means keep working toward that form of dedication.”
“I will.”
“For your homework, I’d like you to select some quotes from your studies of philosophy and describe them in the context of your character development and aspirations.”

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood


joannie said...

I just came from a weekly group for female inmates I co-facilitate, and the thing I find so completely shocking is the low expectations they have. No goals, no dreams...several have returned more than once, several have boyfriends or husbands inside (or children), as if jail is what to aspire to or all they will ever know.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, I've read this blog on and off for a pretty long time and one sort of begins to like the writer no matter what he has done. Especially one as articulate as Jon is.

But the thing is, people in prisons ofter write the most wonderfull things with beautiful handwriting because they are in a cell and thats all they have. And the bad thing is they actually often are criminals. With drug offenders a person can be seem to be the nicest person on the planet and then they get the craving for drugs and they become monsters. All I'm saying is appearance is not everything.

matt said...

Jon, here's a joke you can tell dr O': "I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this." (Emo Philips said it first...) Hang in there Jon.

Jackie said...

I've been reading Jon's blog for a while also, and I believe he is sincere in his quest to improve himself and not make the same mistakes again. The test of his strength to resist temptation we will only know when he's released. Keep blogging Jon and let us know what happens to you after your release.