More reports and reflections on the Harville Hendrix workshop for Imago practitioners in Auckland on 20 March 2011. Most of what he said was not new to me, and what I will note here is mostly what I heard him say. What was unexpected was the power of his ability to do, be in the moment with us what he was talking about. Present, connected, empathic, and making eye contact in such a way that if let at times he was talking just to me, in fact he was, totally there with me in those moments.
The Importance of Theory.
The theory allows the practitioner to know what to do beyond the application of techniques. H also mentioned the importance of research. Brian mentioned there was a swag of research quoted in Wikipedia Imago entry.
The main theory he presented for most of the day was the relational paradigm. Summed up thus: being as relationship. Thus placing this as a shift in consciousness going beyond the philosophers of being such as Heidegger and Sartre and also Ken Wilbur, who has a heirachy of consciousness that is about individual beings.
“Being as relation, that is a revolution in thinking.”
Did Harville say Ken was stuck in the past? I think that he is as this relational thinking is deep and profound, and changes everything. This became really evident to me later in the day as H spoke about self. Self is a negative or remainder once all projection and judgment is withdrawn.
Relationship is a spiritual practice one can do any time when there is another.
“Empathy without judgment is my spiritual practice. Everyone offers you an opportunity.”
See the other as Thou
H referred to quantum physics. I heard a new angle on this, not just that the observer changes that which is observed, but that the thinking the observer brings to the observed, the intention and attitude will change the situation. What power we have, for good or ill!
The medical model is challenged with this understanding. If we see people as sick, then they can’t get well. It might work with physical illness but not in the psychological world.
“It is important how we see people who come to see us.”
How to be with people, we can’t be other than how we are. The essence of being in relationship is to be in empathy.
“Empathy is felt connection.”
When a group member suggested that Maori were a people who were in a connected state H noted that this was an earlier level of connection, more like fusion of the tribe. The empathy he spoke of was connection from a differentiated self.
“Move from the imagined connection to the felt connection and there is participation in that. Getting otherness is terrifying, you have to surrender. To abandon the world you have imagined is terrifying.”
The other person “experiences you experiencing them”. Or even further … They then experience you experiencing them experiencing you… the empathic stance:
“I’m experiencing you experiencing me having my experience. ”
Why people come to us…
“Something has punctured their ability to be connected. They are scared. Some are really scared.”
Thus we make a safe place and there is a transference to the space. ‘This is the place we feel safe, you won’t let us fight.’
“How we hold them in our mind is how they respond to us.”
“We can hold them if we are not anxious”
You can’t connect with a person you are merged with. Differentiation is a sort of birth for each. The self emerges not by saying “I am me!” It is by releasing the other, tolerating the differentiated other. Imago is a process of giving birth to the other person. I’m the mother of their birth. and this is where my birth happens as I am the remainder, what is left as I surrender.
How to be non-judgmental with violence. (( missed a lot of this discussion))
“You are as dangerous to them as they are to you.”
“You are the co-creator of the transaction.”
I understood this as seeing through the violence to the wounded child and reflecting that back to the person. I think of doubling as we use it in psychodrama.
The talking cure is the listening cure.
Book: Biology of Belief, Spontaneous Evolution – culture is the petrie dish of the cell.
“all negativity causes chaos”
I am nudging, nudge nudge, nudge. It is facilitation not therapy.
Phrases Harville used in a dialogue:
Make eye contact. Feel your eyeballs and relax so your pup is will increase in size and that will relax her. Deepen your pupils by taking a deep breath.
Breathe together, set up a resonance.
Look when that happens you see a glow on her face.
Stay with the terror till it passes.
Am I getting a good sense of that now?
When I feel this frustration in the future I’ll …
… and the gift to our relationship is that …