Amplify and release: actively welcoming the experience we fear

I talked with a friend today and was reminded of something from childhood.

TRYING TO WILL HICCUPS TO HAPPEN SOONER

When I was little and had hiccups, my father would sit down with a watch and see if I could will the hiccups to happen sooner, in fewer seconds than the last one. The hiccups tended to go away quickly after this.

I am not sure where he got this from, but it may come from folk wisdom or intuition. (1) And it was likely one of several seeds for my fascination with these kind of dynamics.

When we fuel our resistance to an experience, it’s more likely to come or stay. And when we instead welcome it, it’s more free to stay or go as is natural.

AMPLIFY AND RELEASE

This friend of mine asked me for advice about an old phobia that has resurfaced.

I shared what often helps me: Imagine the situation and feel what it brings up. Try to strengthen and amplify that experience for a few seconds. Release and relax for a little while. Repeat a few times and see what happens. (2)

And then, when you feel ready, dip your toe in the actual experience (exposure therapy) and see what happens. If the anxiety comes up, see what happens when you use this amplify and release approach. See if you can set up a safe situation where you have the time and space to explore it.

For me, this tends to soften the whole experience and I find I relate to it differently.

What’s happening when we explore something in this way? How does it work?

I am sure a lot of different things are going on.

For instance, we shift from fueling the resistance and fear to the experience, to actively welcoming it. We reverse our habitual pattern. And here, we may get to see that it’s not quite as scary as we thought. (We also get a sense of control in how we relate to the experience, which can help us relax.)

These are parts of us we have learned to try to push away and avoid. They are shunned and exiled.

As any experience, they are part of the oneness we are. So they come back because they want to be recognized as that. They come back because they want and need to be felt, understood, welcomed, and loved.

GOING FURTHER

The amplify & release approach is a kind of first-aid or preliminary exploration.

To go further, we can use a range of other guided explorations. For instance, heart-centered approaches that further help us shift our relationship with it. (Tonglen, ho’oponopono). Dialog that helps us get to know it, how it sees the world, what it needs from us, and so on. (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process.) Forms of inquiry that helps us explore how our mind combines mental representations with sensations to create its experience (Kiloby/Living inquiries) or helps us identify and explore stressful beliefs creating the difficult experience (The Work of Byron Katie). And approaches that helps us recognize that the nature of the experience is the same as our own. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)

(1) Counting sheep is another example of this folk wisdom. When we count sheep, we need to stay awake, so we leave our resistance to not falling asleep, which makes it easier for us to naturally fall asleep. It’s an activity just interesting enough to keep us focused, and boring enough to allow us to fall asleep. (Just like certain audio books and podcasts.)

(2) I wouldn’t necessarily use the amplify & release approach for strong trauma or phobias, at least not if the person is unfamiliar with that or similar approaches. That risks overwhelming the person.


DRAFT FRAGMENTS

I talked with a friend today about the amplify and release approach.

She has an old phobia that has emerged again, and I shared what often helps me: Imagine the situation and feel what it brings up. Try to strengthen and amplify that experience for a few seconds. Release and relax for a little while. Repeat a few times and see what happens.

TRYING TO WILL THE HICCUPS TO HAPPEN SOONER

It also reminded me of a childhood experience.

When I was little and had hiccups, my father would sit down with a watch and see if I could will the hiccups to happen sooner, in fewer seconds than the last one. The hiccups tended to go away quickly after this.

I am not sure where he got this from, but it may come from some folk wisdom or intuition. And it may have been a seed for my fascination with these kind of dynamics.

When we join our resistance to an experience, we tend to create dynamics that makes it come or stay. And when we join in with welcoming it, it’s released from this dynamic and more free to stay or go as is natural.

….

When we join with and fuel our resistance to an experience, we tend to create dynamics that makes it come or stay. And when we instead welcome it, it’s released from these dynamics and is more free to stay or go as is natural.

….

For instance, we shift from joining in with the resistance and fear to the experience, to diving headlong into it and wanting it to be stronger. We reverse our habitual pattern. And here, we may get to see that it’s not quite as scary as we thought. We also get a sense of control in how we relate to the experience.

….

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