Recently I proposed a different way of viewing the treatment of anxiety as a discrete process and have suggested that as part of the therapeutic approach we immediately suspect the role of shame in creating or magnifying any general state of anxiety. If there are no underlying issues all well and good, but in anyone presenting with a history of addictive processes and/or trauma, then I suggest this approach may well bear fruit and does as evidenced in the work of Bradshaw, Levine, Covington, Carney and others..
Throughout the last 100 years a number of movements have demonstrated the efficacy of a spiritual approach to overcoming major problems. 12 Step fellowships spring to mind and the recent growth of Mindfulness as a solution, or as an effective adjunct to therapy, demonstrate the point. Recent improvements to the possibilities of scientific rigour in the Social Sciences has allowed us to have a much better understanding of why and how these ‘ways of being’ work and they are increasingly supplementing and in some cases replacing some of the more one dimensional CBT approaches to the possibilities of being human.CBT, of itself is not one dimensional, but some of the practitioners are, seduced by its promise of power : of ‘rationality’ being the purpose of life and the principal evidence of sanity or mental hygiene.I know this is irrational, but when I imagine everyone being mentally hygienically ‘clean’ I see robots.
Eastern traditions have to some extent supplanted the Western Christian mystical traditions, but that Western process is now showing signs of a re emergence, in part because of the (then) revolutionary stance embedded in the 12 Step movement of the allowing of a ” God of your understanding” Until that point Christians were told what to believe and the presence was simply a matter of ‘flavour’-Catholic, Anglican, Methodist etc. To allow the possibility of interpretation was a genuine revolution and today, alongside the decline in organised religion, there has been a huge and expansive movement to explore spirituality from an individual perspective. Mindfulness as a principle rather than as a way of being also encourages this freedom from being ‘part of’. As a way of being that certainly is not so, in my understanding of it.
As with all things, every solution breeds a new problem and that individualisation has bred new levels of uncertainty, doubt and a capacity for the spiritual journey to be undermined by the demands of materialism and the latest ‘hobby’-that of atheist scientists becoming, ironically, the new charismatic preachers; contributes to that fear of uncertainty.
If, instead of trying desperately to prove that we have rational control over all our fears, which is what we try to do when faced with anxiety. What if we see, with assistance, that our lives are shame based (those of us for whom such a proposal is accurate) and if we see that: what if we turn to a power greater than ourselves that is on our side? We accept eventually that the power of the affliction is greater than us; where is the weakness in seeking a power greater than the affliction?
If the Mystics are right, and there have been more of them historically than atheist scientists;that the Universe is God-is-Love and that placing ourselves in the care of that Totality will produce feelings of a pure love of a completely different dimension to Therapy’s politically correct mantra of, ” Unconditional Positive Regard”: how could it be that shame could exist in that presence?
A wise old gardener (actually not old at all-he is younger than me), said in a chat one day, “If we could just get our egos out of the way in our mind and just listen, we would see and hear all we needed”.
In the next post I shall do my best to simplify and deepen my thoughts. Comments welcome please.