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  • mono 8:29 pm on May 24, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , empathy, , , , , , , , tuning in   

    Tuning in Silently 

    signal

    I have seen consultation sessions here in Japan where the client/student sit in enclosed silence while the therapist/teacher silently and patiently waits, neither saying a word until the end of the session. Perhaps it is through such silent meditation with another that we can truly penetrate to that internal space beyond spoken language, that beautiful nothingness. That is, when our spoken language fails to meet the expectations of the other due to linguistic barriers, how to we deeply learn from each other? How do we help each other? It seems that the Carl Rogers way of empathic understanding would work very well in this situation and sometimes it may only take a smile and time to sit together to open up the situation and create a comfortable space between self and other.

    I think that sometimes listening can be more difficult than expressing. Perhaps listening itself is a form of expression. What does it mean to actively listen to another person without forming our opinions and judgments during their talk? Even though people seem to value the quick response as a valid method of replying, I think we should take a note from the Japanese way of communication and learn to become better listeners. If we look at music, the beauty of electro-acoustic music or environmental recordings is the attention it demands of us. It can be very challenging to engage in the sound of crickets. How does one listen to the uneven sound of the evening rain? How do our environments change when we truly listen?

    Recently, I was asked for a method of learning a foreign language. More specifically, I was asked how one can better develop listening skills. One way is to practice the art of “tuning in.” When I am in a public place, I concentrate on all of the conversations taking place around me. Since all of the conversations are in a different language (Japanese), I can become aware of the limits of my listening abilities. I see the family enjoying food across from me and in their conversation with the owner of the restaurant I can observe interaction and lose myself in tuning in to their conversation. There is no ill-intentions in this act, simply the desire to enter into an attuned state of listening. Similarly, the train announcements at the station, the recorded messages on the bus, the radio, a Japanese podcast and so on. When we really tune in to the myriad of sounds around us, we let them enter into us and we eliminate the barrier between our own comprehension and the actual sound of the foreign language. During the state of tuning in, the mind is silent, even though thoughts and recollections of understood vocabulary may drift in and out. The purpose of the exercise is to develop one’s ability to tune in to the sounds and to let them merge with oneself.

    All in all, listening promotes empathic understanding of the other and develops concentration skills. Of course, in the example of second-language acquisition, I think it is also very important to balance your listening with a host of other exercises and strategies (self-experimentation as to what methods work the best for you are encouraged). In the case of silent listening, sitting together and creating a language-less space may increase and deepen awareness between you and the other. By simply experiencing the flow of life, the flow of mind, you may come to a richer understanding of the present moment.

     
  • mono 3:04 pm on May 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Empathic Understanding, empathy, Extensionality, , Internal Evaluation, , , , ,   

    Constructive Creativity 


    In this post, I will again dive into the work of mental health professional Carl R. Rogers from his essay, “Toward a Theory of Creativity.” I will try to provide you with an adequate understanding of his work via my understanding of the text. If you have read Rogers and wish to comment on his ideas of creativity, be my guest, the conversation is yours.

    Social Need and Creative Process

    We live in an age where the roles of active-creator and passive-receiver are changing. With various social media sites and free software applications, one can produce movies, which can be uploaded or share beautiful photographs for free with others. There is a social need to create lest we sink into actless consumerism. The reading of books can change our ways of perceiving the world and the active creation of books or essays can also greatly affect us in myriad ways. Us humans seem to find ourselves in our creations, the vortex of creativity arises from us, comes into us and colors our world.

    The “creative process” as Rogers defines it can be broken down into two parts. The first is that there must be “an observable product of creation.” That is to say, the musician, instead of rehearsing the song only in the confines of the body’s interior, brings it out through the fingers or through the voice. The designer fashions a table or a draft of the table on paper. “Creativity” enters the picture when we examine the tools and the product of the imagination as it exists in reality in accord with other actual creations that exist in the world. That is, we recognize the once-occurrence of the piece of art or of the live speaker’s speech as novel, as something authentic, as something coming from the true part of one’s self and not from a false space.

    Actualization and Inner Conditions

    Human, the incomplete animal, tends toward actualization. The painter leaving the painting half-finished may be haunted by the forgotten project that could have been. The musician sets a goal of completing an album or of crafting a stellar live show. In doing this, the person moves into the realm of the creative, of actualizing an imagined work and breathing life into it, animating it. Moreover, there seems to be a tendency for us to want to perform to our potential. To be caught in a job that you don’t like may mean quitting the job or it may mean to more fully utilize your potential on the job. In either way, the lagging feeling that you are not doing in accord with your potential may usher in and pester the imagination, sometimes fruitfully and other times not. However, where there is “open-ness” to the situation and to and with others, the results of one’s creative endeavors may flourish with felicity.

    The inner conditions, which promote creativity include “extensionality,” “an inner locus of evaluation” and “the ability to play.” Extensionality is Rogers’ term for this “open-ness” to reality. It is to be fluid, to bend and sway with one’s life situations and learn from them. The internal locus of evaluation is the recognition that only one can truly judge oneself and one’s own performance. That is, for example, after performing a concert, the musician needs to be able to fairly examine the performance and try to come to see it an a balanced way. Moreover, there should be the ability to play with the materials at hand, to brainstorm to create without evaulation, to let what wants to emerge, come out and develop under your guiding hand.

    The Creative Act

    But, what about the creative act? What happens in the play known as “the creative act?” Think about your favorite musician and what that musician seeks to create, what that musician seeks to construct. Maybe, if you are like me, you find yourself listening to Austrian experimental guitar music. What exactly did this experimental guitarist/composer wish to bring to life? Whatever it is, perhaps you can sense the essence of the piece, the images that stir in your mind, the blurry outlines becoming crisp, the image becoming clearer and clearer upon closer listening.

    When we listen to that musician, we become aware that we have entered that musician’s world, that the “I” of that musician is communicating with our very own “I.” Similarly, what makes a certain film stick with us. What gives a marvelous film, its marvelous qualities. Whose vision is the film? When we watch a David Lynch film, even if we don’t know that it is a David Lynch film, we can tell by the way the characters interact, by the music, by the atmosphere…We can sense the “I” of Lynch himself through the fantasy world of cinema.

    Factors for Considering Constructive Creativity

    In closing, for Rogers there are roughly four factors that foster constructive creativity. The first, “individual as unconditional worth,” sees the individual as a once-occurrent event, an ever-changing worlding moment. The second factor wishes to alleviate any forms of external evaluation. That is, the school teacher would have to stop comparing grades for grades only work to block the creative process of the student by pitting student against student, student against parent, student against teacher or student versus self. The third factor is empathic understanding of the other, an acceptance of the other as he or she is, which promotes a willingness to share and to express. The fourth and final factor would be allowing the other person complete symbolic expression. In this way, the person may write a poem about a specific traumatizing situation instead of reacting violently toward a real flesh-and-blood other. Or, the writer may write about a powerful experience, that is, expressing it through a symbolic medium. This is freeing.

    Thank you very much for reading. Have a creative and productive day.

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  • mono 8:52 pm on April 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Client-Centered, , empathy, , , , , , , Process, , The Good Life, ,   

    Carl Rogers: The Good Life (a condensation) 

    I’ve been obsessing over Carl Rogers these days and would like to briefly outline techniques for enacting and engaging in “the good life” as drawn out in his piece “A Therapist’s View of the Good Life.”

    THE GOOD LIFE: A Process

    1. An Increasing Openness to Experience: Your armor has disintegrated and you are more at peace with yourself. You accept yourself as a process, as a living breathing process able to feel your emotions and not hindered by imaginary walls.

    2. Increasingly Existential Living: You recognize your once-occurence and the ever-renewing fluidity of the world. You are adaptible and you (as Alan Watts may say) “swing into life” feeding off of your experience and embracing the now-ness of the day.

    3. An Increasing Trust in His Organism: You react and trust those reactions as they are congruent with you and with the situation. You trust that your reactions are the most fitting in a given situation given the experience and understanding that you have.

    4. The Process of Functioning More Fully: In conjunction with numbers 1-3, you are more engaged in the social, in the creative aspects of life. There is integration and trust. You are aware of your minding of the world and acting in congruence, in harmony with your self.

     
  • mono 7:52 am on April 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Approach, , , , , empathy, Fluidity, , , Humanist, , Person Centered, Personal, , , True,   

    To Be That Self Which One Truly Is: Carl Rogers 

    nugunslinger

    “To Be That Self Which One Truly Is” is published in Carl Rogers‘s book “On Becoming a Person.”

    In this essay he provides guidance for opening oneself up to the process-nature of one’s self while relating it to the question: “What are my goals in life?” That is, how are we to realize these goals? How are we to find and live out purposeful lives?

    The Facade

    Rogers wishes to move the client away from the facades of being. That is, to peel off the false faces that may haunt one and to accept oneself as one is. To allow oneself to feel one’s feelings instead of pushing them away. However, I don’t think Rogers is asking us to obsessively dwell on our feelings and to live off of them, but simply to let them emerge and be a part of who we are. In Rogers work, I am reminded of the “Constructive Living” approach as written about by David K. Reynolds in which he, too, calls for a more natural approach to dealing with one’s feelings and getting on with doing what needs doing. However, this releasing of the feelings, this acceptance of the feelings may not be comfortable, it may not “feel good.” You may find that you are weak, that you are scared or that you are over-dependent. But, this is part of the process that you are and letting yourself come to be this changing process is a step toward being the self that you truly are.

    Away from Oughts

    Also, Rogers wishes the client to move away from the “ought” view of oneself. That is, to truly come to see oneself as one is may mean cutting off the expectations that others have of you, the false faces that the others erect for you. In this way, the woman who wants to be a doctor, but has pressure from her family to stay at home all day should come to see the influence of this family-based expectation and move toward being a doctor instead of being the pushed-around self that the family may wish her to be. I think we have all felt the feeling that a certain life situation or a certain job were not right for us or that a new opportunity presented to us should not be taken. Again, moving away from the oughts that others create for us is a step in becoming who one truly is.

    In this way, the idea of “self-direction” comes out and is very important for Rogers. That is, the client needs to confront the influences from others, the fake expectations, the oughts and the should, moving away from them and moving toward how one wishes to be and not how others wish one to be. In short, one becomes responsible for the self that one is creating, the process that one is always becoming. Responsibility is not always easy and in fact, moving away from the groups that exercise control over one’s life may be tremendously difficult and dangerous. However, it is only through this acceptance of process-self that the client may undertake a more responsible, free and healthy existence and, in doing so, move toward a more autonomous and honest life.

    Complexity and Trust

    Moreover, the client should be well aware of the complex nature of his or her self and instead of relishing in the walls of hidden desires, open oneself to the complexity that one is, the labyrinthine self that one never knew one was. In addition, one may come to see the other person as a complex process of becoming as well instead of a fixed static object. That is, a trust in the process-nature of oneself may also open up a newfound view of the other, the other, too, is a process.

    In trusting oneself, a new kind of life may emerge, a life not bound by the strict gaze of others. For example, the great filmmaker Stanley Kubrick developed his own way of making films. He moved out from the strict eye of the others and created fresh and honest worlds, worlds rich in character and atmosphere. Also, the renaissance man Vincent Gallo (despite your opinion of him) has branched out in film, composition, performance, modeling, real estate and painting. The reception of his last film “The Brown Bunny” did not stop him from creating new kinds of art, new modes of being.

    Listening…Ever Listening

    It is important that we listen to ourselves, listen to the true voices that emerge. In the Lacanian world, the voice of the big Other mocks and prods. One needs to truly hear this voice of the big Other, to see the haunting visions for what they are and listen to that other voice, one’s true once-occurent voice. Despite social fragmentation, there are ways in which we can develop ourselves, free ourselves from the threatening parts of ourself that wish to enchain us. One should train one’s ears to listen closely to the movement of the self, to how the self manifests itself and the myriad of tricks that it plays. This may not be easy and this may not be “fun,” but, in the end, it may be absolutely necessary if one wishes to be that self which one truly is.

    Photo by nugunslinger (CC)

     
  • mono 10:58 am on April 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , empathy, Feelings, Fluid Process, levels of self, , Person, Person-Centered Therapy, , , , , Sensitive Living, ,   

    Person as a Fluid Process (Spending Time with Carl R. Rogers Part 2) 

    Carl Rogers, advocate for Person-centered psychotherapyImage via WikipediaYesterday, I had the pleasure of reading Carl R. Rogers‘s essay “What it Means to Become a Person” from his book “On Becoming a Person.” In this essay, Rogers discusses the idea of “false faces” and “pure culture” while opening up what he calls the “fluid process” experience of personhood. As with my “Sensitive Empathy” post, I will try to briefly elucidate Rogers and, in doing so, hopefully move towards a clear yet brief explication of this work.

    False Faces and Pure Culture

    It seems that we can understand the idea of “false faces” by imagining ourselves at a job interview. Surely, at a job interview the game of revealing/concealing is heavily enacted. That is, if one really wants the job, one must try to play the interview game and win. The face contorts into a forced smile, perhaps the arms sit calmly on the lap and so on. It is as if some foreign presence has overtaken the body and there is a kind of disconnection that occurs in the person. For Rogers, this is the person exercising a “false face.” I don’t think the job interview example is the only time that we play with these false faces, in fact, I would almost say that for most of us interacting at the workplace or around those we don’t know, the false face is used a great deal. Moreover, in some cases it is necessary to employ the false face to some extent and to play the game one must, at points, struggle to control one’s face. However, I think that what Rogers wants to move toward is a peeling off of the false face that emerges in times when it doesn’t have to. That is to say, in times when one should allow oneself to expose one’s true face. This examination of one’s use of social masks may reveal the experience of the overuse of the mask, which is hindering a person from truly becoming his or herself. If one can work to overcome the barriers of false faces, one has the chance to truly shine, to reach that part of one’s self that may be veiled or covered-up. This recognition of and getting in touch with one’s use of “false faces” may be seen as the first step in becoming a person. When one comes to understand this and break out of this shell, the experience of, what Rogers calls “pure culture” may come to fruition. “Pure Culture” can be defined as letting oneself truly feel and be who one is without the overuse of a false face. It should be noted however that this experience may not necessarily be a pleasant one. That is to say, one may find what Rogers refers to as “The stranger behind the mask.” Perhaps, for some of Rogers clients, the breaking down of the mask was terrifying in that it exposed a part of self, which because of its concealed nature, exposed the hidden side of the self, the shadow which has not yet blossomed.

    True Feeling

    Also, Rogers talks about the idea of “letting yourself feel what you are feeling.” What this means is not trying to convince yourself that you feel a certain way, when in reality you feel a different way. Perhaps there are parts of one’s personality that one does not want to admit to, that are shameful or harmful. I believe Rogers would say that one should not create a gap in the experiencing of these feelings but accept them as being a part of the person that one is becoming. He doesn’t talk about acting on the feelings, but simply accepting them as a part of one’s self, as a part of one’s becoming. From this, perhaps one will learn to place more trust in oneself, to see one’s self in a more balanced way, in an honest way. If a person can achieve this kind of self-honesty, this kind of self-nudity, then perhaps the fluidity of the self will be recognized. That is to say, the presence of one’s self not as a fixed object, but as a nexus of possibilities and happenings. It seems that in this it is Rogers aim to allow the client to recognize the becoming-nature of what it means to be a person. The masks that were employed for so long need not exist, that one in fact was the creator of the mask…

    Person as Fluid Process

    What Rogers is moving towards is what he recognizes as “the person as a fluid process” or “a stream of becoming.” Of course, it is difficult for us to keep an awareness of our fluidity in mind at all times in our daily life and I think that Rogers would agree on this, but, it is achievable upon reflection, in times of meditative thinking, wondering and questioning or perhaps on a morning stroll. The recognition that one is a fluid process of becoming may open one’s self to a side of existence that one has denied oneself by the use of “false faces.” One may come to experience the “pure culture” of life, the streaming process of doing, feeling and becoming. One need not be “stuck” with oneself, but may come to accept the changing nature of personhood, accept the fact that the doing of the task is the doing of the task: once completed, there is no more task…it, too, was a process.

    Sensitive Living

    In this way of allowing oneself to feel what one is feeling, one may experience what Rogers calls “sensitive living.” Perhaps this could be understood as the recognition of oneself as an ever-changing process of experiences, situations and possibilities. Or, the experience of one’s person as “a changing constellation of potentialities.” This way of looking at the person allows the person to freely feel and experience life and the myriad of fluctuating situations that occur or that one may enact. This trust and acceptance, for Rogers, is a vital step in the client and, moreover, in the person as such.

    These are observations that Rogers came to realize while in close communication with suffering clients, family, friends and so on and are applicable to those of us who suffer, to those of us who wish to make a change, to realize a new way of living and to strive in our process of becoming. Thank you for reading this and I hope you have found this useful. If you are familiar with Rogers work and wish to further this reading or add your own interpretation of Rogers work, please, by all means do so.

     
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