It’s Just Lunch – A Novel Exploration

Thirteenth in a series [gs *]

Shortly after hitting ‘send’ on the go-away email, I have a Transformational Kinesiology with my [gs TK] practitioner friend Saren.

If you’re familiar with muscle testing (that weird arm-pushing yes/no? business), you’ll have an idea of what this is. But TK is about more than figuring out which Bach flower remedy to prescribe, or what foods to avoid. It is used for balancing one’s energies, clarifying and achieving goals, making life-changes, discovering blockages, a whole range of fun stuff.

I like it because, without favoring anything (talking, moving, energy work, etc.), or getting stuck in any modality, it slips smoothly between head, heart, body, soul & spirit. It uses language, the junk in my living room, arm-pushing, tapping on the top of my head, bouncing around, drawing simple pictures, saying things while making a big circle with my arm and repeating the places where my voice catches and much more. It’s wonderfully non-linear, unpredictable, and whatever it is, it comes from me – the boolean yes’s and no’s of the simple muscle-test, and an encyclopedia of weird approaches to asking the questions. I like that it inherently avoids anyone dumping their own interpretations onto me – a practice I’m deathly allergic to. Add Saren’s amazingly insightful intuition to the power of the method, and it’s always a transformative experience.

It delivers all the shock and exhilaration of a tumble down a bumpy ravine, with none of the scrapes, breaks or bruises. My idea of perfect fun!

So, it’s time for [gs TK] and I know that there’s more under the surface. In Human Systems Dynamics (one of my current group methodology fixations), we’d say that when something new wants to emerge (in this case, my ‘being in the world’ more authentically) and we run into stuckness, you have to look at the patterns – individual, group level, and societal level to understand how they are impacting the system. In Theory U, (another fixation) we’d say that you have to look at reality clearly before we can begin to see the future that is trying to emerge. In any case, perhaps I  can shoo away this particular guy, but that doesn’t teach me anything about my own deep patterns that enabled that weirdness to take place in the first place. The whole thing points to parts of myself I still don’t understand – ways I unconsciously hijack myself. Because if this were a simple garden-variety inappropriate infringement across clear, healthy boundaries it could never have gotten as far as it did. Clearly I am as complicit as he was in this mess, which, in my ethical framework means I still have work to do.

So I tell Saren I want to work on my little lunch peccadillo. I want to gain a deeper understanding of my own part, and learn how to manage a repeat better. It’s clear to me that if I proceed as I intend to, I’ll have ample opportunities to make the same mistakes again and again.

We start with a little tapping and pushing and checking and balancing, making certain that I’m fully present in the context of [gs TK]. Then we check to see if this gooey business is the right and only goal for today.

Having concluded the prep in a matter of moments, I throw myself into the story. As happens when engaged in a telling, my arms wave around, my face scrunches up, my shoulders squiggle, I swear a lot, laugh uproariously, nose-dive into the pillows – expressing the whole of it – the humor, the rage, the confusion and frustration and misunderstanding – through my body. I break out into a sweat, my voice squawks and screeches all over the place and I feel better already, just physically expressing the energy of the narrative. Free from worry about crushing any delicate anybody.

In articulating a goal, we discuss the paradox-in-action of practicing vulnerability without falling into these goo-pits of other people’s un-requitable expectations – what would facilitate that? Does Christine already know? yes/no? (yes- acting in accordance with my body’s wisdom). Was Christine doing that at lunch? yes/no?  Does Christine know why not? yes/no?  (she’s muscle testing on my arms here).

Suddenly I have a crystal clear, muscular memory of my eyes – wanting, trying, aching to pull away from his, standing at the counter, before ordering lunch, and me overriding that particular bodily impulse. Suddenly it’s obvious – none of what followed would have been like it was, if I’d let my eyes look away when they wanted to. I say that and she muscle-tests yes/no? Anything else? yes/no?  It’s clear – that was the pivotal moment, when my eyes said no and my head said yes.

From the moment I understand the impact of that instant with the eyes, if I imagine looking away when my eyes wanted to, I can see several, infinitely better responses I could have had at every single subsequent weirdness that presented itself. In fact, I’m pretty sure the weirdness would not even have arisen if I had just followed my instincts.

From that moment, if I imagine looking away when I should have, I perceive everything that followed from a different way of knowing. In that moment I chose a smaller, less true way of being, which shifted the potential in everything that followed. I could have managed the whole thing so much better. We could have had a really great conversation. It could have been transformative, energizing – instead of gooey and exhausting. But for the eyes. But for that one moment of allowing my brain to over-ride my bodily wisdom.

To be clear – the problem wasn’t in the eye contact per se. But my eyes knew when their doors needed to shut, if only for a few moments, because whatever was going on right then wasn’t in anyone’s best interests. The problem was that my body wanted to block something unhealthy from happening, some reciprocal pattern in each of us that hooked us both into a smaller self. My body told me to prevent that, but my mind interfered. In forcing my eyes to stay open (I’m reminded of that scene in Clockwork Orange) (this clearly also resonates to other ways I’ve forced myself to remain open in the past, when my body did not want to) I flipped a switch partially off. It took more than an hour to flip it back on again, and look what happened in that hour!

So the question is why? Why did I override my body’s wisdom, which I’m usually so in touch with? Saren flips through lists while doing the yes/no? ? Is it this yes/no?  Is it that yes/no? 

The yes/no?  process says that I drop my bodily wisdom when I feel other people’s needs (which seems dumb). But which needs explicitly? About this? yes/no?  About that, yes/no? 

And here it gets interesting. We discover, via the rapid-fire yes/no?  yes/no?  yes/no? business, that I stop listening to my body when I can feel someone’s ego is wrapped up in me seeing them in a way that I don’t feel is real.

When I sense they want me to see them in a certain light, but I actually see them in another.

It’s like this: let’s say that someone is telling you how emotionally intelligent she is, but right in the midst of her words, she does several unconsciously insensitive things. Things that, by your experience, most people are easily capable of avoiding. She’s telling you one thing, but you’re seeing another.

When that happens, I feel compelled to pretend to accept her at her word (I’m not self-abnegating enough to entirely discard my own perception, but I do try to suspend it). Maybe she’s recently had a big breakthrough, and used to be a far bigger clod than she is in the moment – it’s all relative. Or maybe, in the realm under consideration, I’m in the 98th percentile, simply due to proclivity and experience, and she’s never going to get beyond the 70th. She’s still above average. Plus who made me judge? Only an arrogant snot is going to say ‘well, you think you’re so evolved, but let me tell you all the ways you’ve fallen short in the past 5 minutes.’ That’s not ever going to be me.

But at the same time, I experience this tension. I’m capable of keeping my mouth shut, but my face, if left to its own devices, would tell her, in a way no words ever could, that relative to my experience, she’s an insensitive clod and I’m experiencing conflict. There’s a dissonance. I see one thing and am pretending to see another. Which information source am I going to let in? I have to turn some radars off in order to manage the discordance.

I was feeling that way through the entire lunch with that guy – a cringing need to keep him from seeing the way I perceived him – as an exuberant and well-intentioned neophyte expounding at me in a realm where I am. . . . . far more experienced, at the least.

I was unintentionally mommy-ing him. I could tell that in looking at me, all he was seeing was himself. But I was unwilling to shatter his ego-mirror (because that would be not-nice, judgmental, aggressive, hurtful). I wanted, instead, to be like the person on the other side of the looking glass – to move a little and hope that he’d catch on and suddenly understand that he was looking at a separate person (much nicer – break it to him gently). But my otherness didn’t fit the paradigm he seemed to have gotten lost in, and he categorically missed my (admittedly subtle) autonomous movements.

He so wanted to believe that our eye contact was pure love, while for me it was a simple greeting (which may briefly have contained some kind of, perhaps, loving-kindness) that morphed into animal vigilance – and then it became this other business. He so wanted to believe that what he was trying to do in that eye contact was good for us both. Once my animal vigilance had dismissed him as a threat, my body wanted to turn away to shut out the psychic grabbing and prying, but some contrary part of me sensed that his ego needed to believe in something that our sustained eye-contact was affirming, and it wouldn’t let me contradict him.

So that’s how I get caught in the goo. I relinquish my bodily wisdom (which is where most of my power resides) in support of another’s self image that I don’t in that moment, believe in. I tell my body to shut up, so I can play the mommy-mirror game.

Ok – that feels right. But then we do the yes/no?  yes/no?  yes/no? and find that’s a start, but it’s not all there is to it. Ugh!!

To be continued . . .

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"For a woman to explore and express the fullness of her sexuality, her emotional and intellectual capacities, would entail who knows what risks and who knows what truly revolutionary alteration of the social conditions that demean and constrain her."

-Louise J. Kaplan - Female Perversions