Let me set you up: Back in the 80s I made a huge esoteric discovery after 12 years of "witnessing" meditation. I'm going to let you in on it: WE HAVE EMOTIONS!
I devoted myself to learning all I could about this new mystery. One week the Big New Thing in town was NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) and of course I went to the seminar. Amongst other stuff which I've forgotten (because the techniques seemed to be about tricking me OUT of my emotions), I learned that different people process information differently, according to which "type" they are––visual, auditory or kinesthetic (actually, to show you knew what you were talking about, you had to call these "vish, audio and kino.")
(Quick digression: What type are you? And what type of type do I mean, today? Living in Silly Marin, as I do, most people I know can at least speak the languages of astrological types (Vedic AND Western of course) and the enneagram, if not also Myers-Briggs, love types, body types... Well, sometimes it seems silly to me, but perhaps that's because I'm a 4 (strong 5 wing) Leo with a Taurus moon intro-extro ectomorph oral type and if you now feel you know me we're both in big trouble!)
As I was saying,
Being very vish-audio myself (meaning that I can easily visualize things, and can also hear long paragraphs being spoken in or beyond my own mind), I figured that what I needed to develop, to become well-rounded, was my kino self. I needed to learn to get into my body and "feel" stuff. If you have read my doorwave blog, I told the funny story about my mother saying "The BODY? Whatever for?" in response to my attempts to explain that my work is "like psychotherapy but more in the body."
So I was brought up in a family that didn't feel anything. Or at least we didn't know we were feeling anything. If you have heard about the famous English "stiff upper lip," and multiply that by ten thousand, you might start to imagine my family life. As the family iconoclast (aka black sheep), I rebelled against this by developing a whole school of self-evolution in which the subtle and nuanced tracking of inner sensations is one of the main skills you learn. Because it turned out that I wasn't alone in not being able to "feel"––even people who are "kino," that is supposedly feeling-based, are not necessarily really "feeling" what is really going on inside, any more than vish folk are "seeing" the inner truth, and so on.
Why? Because whatever type we are, when we turn our attention to what we think is the "inside" realm, we end up caught in the famous quantum mechanical dilemma in which the observer is creating the result of the experiment. What witness? We're meddling by our very watching, even if we think we're watching with detachment. I know this can be confusing because every single spiritual teacher says that witnessing is key, and I agree, and... there is more to the story, which is the reason for WETNESS.
Another way of saying this is that when we sit and try to "witness" our inner selves, we are seeing what we have always seen, hearing the same-old same-old litany, and even feeling a set cycle of inner sensations, tracking them along very well-grooved pathways.
In fact, although this may seem almost controversial, I feel that my early attempts to track in detail the sensations in my body may have contributed to my developing fibromyalgia for many, many years! I began feeling these extreme pain sensations in my early 30s. I tried all the usual non-cures, both allopathic and natural, but one "truth" that I was religious about back then was that I should really "feel" the pain without resisting it, in order to heal it. And in fact said pain had turned up at the end of 12 years of intense life as a meditating monk "witnessing"––or rather dissociating from––all my inner and outer sensations. So I wasn't a big fan of witnessing! (You can read more about my strange life by clicking to the bio page on my i-Wave website).
Oops! For a while back then, I went too far in the other direction. By using my attention to track these pathways of pain, I actually developed more of them!Get this: recent scientific studies of people with fibromyalgia have shown that feeling pain leads to more pain. If you can actually stop the pain, by painkillers or any other means, natural or unnatural, it often gets better! Counter-intuitively––or perhaps counter-new-age-dogmatically––it is the very immersion of attention in the pain that causes the pain syndrome to spread!
Your focused attention tracks down a certain nerve pathway, following the pain sensation (and if you have had this condition you know it's extremely compelling––just try ignoring it!). But as your attention journeys again and again down the nerve pain highway, it actually becoms a superhighway, and then starts innovating new nerve pain highways! That's the word they use in the studies: innovation!
Not exactly the kind of innovative creativity I was after!
I don't regret this "mistake," because it's all part of the fascinating March of Science within myself, that life has turned out to be (never believed the "white picket fence" version anyway!) as I experiment with various approaches and find out how stuff works, especially inner stuff. However, it was a bit confusing for me when I realized that my loving intention of "being with" my inner pain had actually worked against me. Turned out I had been spoiling a bratty inner child, and she had just decided to take me hostage. How much loving attention to her pain would ever be enough?
So, back to the drawing board! Long story short (and the longer and more practical story is part of the new i-Wavework), I realized that it was time to resurrect the witness, but with a difference. What I didn't like about the much-repeated spiritual precept that "to get free one should witness one's thoughts, feelings and inner sensations" was that it was overly male in orientation (and we're talking Old Male rather than the New Integrated Male who is reading this blog!). In other words, it might work for guys meditating without women and children (and the chaotic emotional life they represent) to "bother" them, but you always have to look at how their wives and children are doing, to get the whole story.
In the chauvinistic version of human culture, Father comes into the room to visit his offspring. Let's say the baby is lying in the crib, screaming, because no one has changed his diaper recently. Father leans over the edge of the crib and detachedly "witnesses" the baby. "Hmm! Noisy little bugger, isn't he," thinks Dad. "I guess I'll let mom handle him until he is old enough to admire me and ask me to teach him baseball."
Now, if mom isn't around, and dad just "witnesses" the baby without picking him up, what will happen? Eventually the baby will be quiet. Peace in the household! Or in spiritual terms, "Samadhi!" "Big Mind!" Really? Is baby at peace? Or did neglect just cause him to give up on his own healthy instinctual knowing of his real-life, real-time needs in a kind of exhausted resignation? You think he's not angry about being "witnessed" and abandoned by his daddy? And how will that anger show up when he grows up? He will become that kind of father himself, or in relationships, he will feel uncomfortable and "go spiritual" or even run away when his woman has strong feelings, etc. etc.
On the other hand, if Mother comes into the room, she will probably lift the screaming baby up in her arms, love him, coo to him, vibrate with him until he is soothed. And hopefully she will change his diaper, too. However, even this more idealistic approach to parenting can go wrong, just as the idealistic approach of "just loving your pain" or "just allowing your inner child to have his/her feelings" can go horribly wrong. If there is a deep rift in the family love-vibration, or some other energetic dysfunction in the household (and there usually is in our un-earthy society), the baby may start screaming and focusing more and more on his upsets, so he can get love. And if mom isn't getting loved up by dad, she may put too much attention on the baby, so that he loses all ability to self-soothe. And on and on...
Sorry to paint this complex picture, but I'm trying to talk, really, about how we can deal with our own inner pain. Our pain is caused by feeling separate, and the separateness can be described (and often is) as a kind of inner child that has lost the safe bond with its parents. Separation from Mother-Father God.
Now here's a twist: Remember, there is no inner child, really! Buddha pointed out that in reality there is no self––our whole sense of our separate self is an illusion caused by various habits and circling pathways of attention (doesn't this make your ego sound like fibromyalgia!). So how can there be "selves," subpersonalities or "parts?" These are artifacts, like the ego or small "s" self we keep trying to fix. They can be useful tools and devices to unravel inner blocks, but don't get lost in them! Pick the tool up. Put the tool down. If you reify (meaning "thingify") these inner parts too much, they become stronger and stronger like my former chronic illness, and you just have further to go to reach the only real solution: waking up to the reality of no-self or Oneness.
Yet the impression of being a lost child hurts, so how can we soothe and reparent ourselves? Personal growth can be summed up in this way: the one developmental task each of us faces, sooner or later, in this lifetime or the next, is to successfully reparent ourselves; to reconnect with our Source as a living experience. So how can we handle these antsy inner parts without (1) the problems of dissociated witnessing or (2) the excesses of codependently pandering to these childish parts of ourselves?
Ta dah! The solution is simple. From WITNESS to... WETNESS (I am copyrighting this phrase by the way!). This a kind of combination of mom and dad––a way of being with all parts of the self while still realizing their relative unreality, and most importantly, staying in touch with the Real, That Which Doesn't Change, the Real Parent or Source we all internally scream, ache, long for.
I think if you have been tracking me, you may be able to sense what I mean. There is a way of witnessing that includes a compassionate "being with." You can't really do this in theory, though. These impressions of the painbody live in your "wetware," in the ebbs and flows of your hormones, brain chemicals, your wet body. Not your theoretically observed false self. So you need a way to flow into these places and meet them without drowning. That is what I call WETNESS.
As far as a repeatable technique for doing this, yes, I obviously do have one, but I can't teach it here because it involves an initiation from dry to wet which I haven't figured out how to do through written words (yet). It doesn't take years to learn, but does take more than a few clever phrases; in fact you would miss a very important portal if you thought you had gotten it just by mentally understanding my words. I am working on crunching the basics of this teaching into one weekend, to teach at the upcoming iWave One iNitiation.