Since time immemorial humans have looked to the sky for a greater power to nourish and keep them safe. In earliest times the rising sun was worshipped as the power that protected life through light and warmth. Later, sun worship morphed onto worship of gods and a God in the heavens who could be prayed to and who would personally intervene to offer safety to mortals. Eventually, that mana, or divine energy, came down to earth and rubbed off on kings and queens who provided safety and bounty to their subjects. In our modern world that divine mana is still projected onto our elected leaders, to whom, from a very deep layer of the psyche, we look to for stability and safety.
Currently, the leader of America and the world presents as a case of hysteria common to patients in Freud’s psychotherapy practice in Vienna in the late 19th century. Freud’s remarkable discovery was that hysteria, marked by bizarre moods and impulsivity, was actually an emotional instability generated by a highly repressed instinctual nature at the root of the human being, in what he called “the unconscious.”
The latter stage of the Victorian Era in which Freud lived was so dominated by the ascent of the mind and reason that the instinctual, irrational nature of the human psyche was both devalued and repressed. That repressed nature rebelled by seizing possession of the personality in the form of hysterical symptoms. The cure, Freud was able to discover, required a reconciliation of the rational mind with its irrational nature.
The fact that the highest ranking official in the world today, imbued with the projected divine mana of the masses, displays an hysterical character rocks the boat of world and individual security and also challenges us all to reckon with the bipolar nature of our species. It is our task too to forge a reconciliation between our rational mental plane and our irrational emotional and instinctive nature, which lies at the root of our humanness.
Last week I shared in my blog that I limit my exposure to the news to one minute per day. I do this to regulate the influx of hysterical energy from without into my being, but also to regulate my own intense hysterical reaction to it from within. To find safety we must be able to regulate our own emotional reactivity within. For each individual this limitation may be different. Jan, for instance, finds that she can expose herself to one hour of the news per day.
Outwardly, protest movements have sprung up in an attempt to provide a container or boundaries for the hysterical energy at the center of the government. These are necessary, but I would caution that groups organize from a sober, regulated place, as hysterical reactivity to hysteria only serves to escalate it and works against the goal of stabilization. To rage against the unreasonable only makes one vulnerable to inviting rage into the center of one’s own personality, an obvious defeat of the self.
On an individual level we are all confronted with the fear of disaster, natural or manufactured, erupting at any moment. The individual can no longer look to the leader for solace, certainly not a hysterical leader! One must calm the storm from within.
The simple act of deep breathing can have a calming effect on the stormy areas of the body from which our deepest emotions emanate. First and foremost is the perineum, that area between the genitals and the anus, the very root of the human body. When we don’t feel safe that region clenches. To place the awareness there, at our physical root, and gently breathe into it while releasing its tensions can bring deep calm to the self. The air we breathe comes from the sky, from the heavens; it is mana from the divine. When we bring the breath into our body and join it in deep communion with our root we join spirit and nature in peaceful safety within.
Although we can easily criticize and make fun of our hysterical leader, whose behavior really does threaten world safety, we might also accept that we, in our time, are being challenged to individually make peace with the true needs of nature, both within ourselves and outside in the world, just as it was the challenge in Freud’s time. We too are faced with bringing the forces of reason and the forces of irrational nature back into calm balance.
This is the opus of our time, as is evident from the events that present daily on the world stage, and yes, there is extreme urgency. But the first task is to be able to regulate and commune with the forces of nature within the self, the neglect and repression of which reflect in a president who suffers from hysteria.
Behind the hysteria is nature itself demanding attention and a new relationship. And this is the task that we are all challenged to take up now, to become leaders ourselves by reconciling with the deepest natures within the self. Bringing balance and safety within will bring the same without. Try it within and see how the world follows suit.
This calming breath to the perineum is but one small beginning to safety. Many more will follow. But it’s always good to begin at the root of things!
Breathing in, releasing out,