Tag Archives: emotion

Chuck’s Place: Beyond the Shadow of Doubt

The shadow is everywhere…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Reason is the dominant tool of the first attention, what the Shamans of Ancient Mexico call everyday life. Beyond the first attention is the second attention, the world of energetic life, which is replete with all things irrational.

The Hindus note, for instance, that the emotional body component of the energy body, which is the home of powerful emotions and passions, is a prominent feature of the second attention.

Jung calls the second attention the collective unconscious, which lacking consciousness to guide volition, operates through the activation of powerful archetypes that can overwhelm the reasonable ego of the first attention, causing it to perform outrageous acts. To preserve the order and decency of normalcy, Jung asserts that these deeper dimensions of the psyche are repressed and housed in what he called the shadow, a component of the second attention.

Reason and shadow are mortal enemies, hence the natural tendency to keep them separated. Reason insists upon the rules of logic and fairness for decision making. Shadow insists upon the release of intense emotions and passions as its modus operandi, reason be dammed. Reason, in its own condescension, snubs the irrational shadow, misjudging the power of the repressed.

The history of humankind reflects the occasional reckoning of these two dominants in the clashes of world wars. Our current world predicament is a prime example of reason clashing with the formidable energy of the irrational. The world is rapidly disintegrating into such a primal clash at this very moment.

At a fundamental level the worlds of the first and second attention are layers of the same onion. As humans we are both consciously reasonable, solid beings, as well as irrational, energetic spirit beings. The totality of ourselves requires that we integrate these worlds despite their inherent opposition. Evolution is absolutely requiring such an advance at this time. How can we achieve this integration without the ultimate disintegration, Armageddon?

To begin, reason must address the limitations of its own belief system: “Things aren’t that bad… no one would let that happen…” In fact, the shadow thrives on letting anything happen that offers it powerful release.

Next, reason must recognize that shadow is a dimension of its own self. Reason often doubts this, despite the many addictions or obsessions that it notices in its own functioning. Does it also notice its fascination and vicarious excitement with the emotional outbursts of now?  Reason always believes that it has things under control, or that things are, ultimately, under control.

Reason must accept responsibility in developing a relationship with the energetic world of the second attention. When people discover the out-of-body world, they are often at first driven by insatiable desires, repressed in the first attention of everyday life. Maintaining the operation of reason, with the intents available in the second attention, is critical for deep responsible exploration.

I strongly recommend Robert Monroe’s three books, which detail his own journeys into the second attention with the evolving accompaniment of his first attention, reason. With his success and guidance, he is truly deserving of the title of American Shaman.

Exploration and reconciliation with the deeper dimensions of the self offer a playing field of deep soulful satisfaction, which checks the tendency of the shadow to need to project itself upon habits and outer events that mesmerize the ego and take over consciousness.

Ego must humble itself to the existence of energies within the self that are far more powerful than ego itself. Ego has reason, but that’s no match for the irrational. Ego, in its humble smallness, can say no however. What change would happen overnight in the world if all individuals just said no, not driving today, not consuming today? Such a world strike of no would force a different relationship with power.

Nonetheless, ego must not be unreasonable in its demands. The world of the irrational, the world of passion and spirit must be lived. Beyond the shadow of doubt, reason must join with its passionate, spirited, irrational self in deep exploration and life, beyond reason.

Living the irrational, with reason,


Chuck’s Place: Staying Positive

Is it chaos or a work in progress?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

What we think is what we get. Make the central focus of life calmness. From the place of calm we find the freedom to be at ease, with the mind as a tool to find clarity and channel the truth. Without calm the mind is blown about in free association with all its resultant emotional storms. These are the storms that breed negativity, as we feel ourselves overwhelmed by the anxieties of thoughts seeking to birth in the center of our minds.

We get to calm by weeding the mind of invasive thoughts that grow bigger as they seek to root in the energy of our attention. We cultivate the mind by being in charge of where we place our attention. As all gardeners know, invasive species are a fact of life. However, like the gardener, we can be in charge of which thoughts receive our greatest care and which we discard as mere weeds.

There are infinite seeds of thought that seek to take root in the soil of the mind. The mind is daily flooded with a highly charged marketplace of thought-offerings that vie for the currency of our attention. The outer expression of this is eloquently mirrored in the insatiable attention-seeking behavior of political leaders, whose viewpoints thrive on the food of our attention, rendering us powerless and energetically bankrupt.

But we are not victims. The Shamans of Ancient Mexico confirmed that although extreme trickery is allowed in all realities, in the final analysis we must sign up or agree for our energy to be taken. Even in the most extreme of captive circumstances, pointed out Victor Frankl, referring to his stay in a death camp, are we still free to choose the attitude we will take toward our circumstances.

From the place of calm we arrive at detachment. Detachment does not mean dissociation. There is a distinction between objective emotion and subjective emotion. To be mindfully present does not free one from the power of emotion. In fact, it insists that we be fully present to all that is: thought, feeling, sensation, and intuition. Objective emotion is genuine reaction to the truth.

The story is told of the teacher monk who cried at the death of his son. His students were flustered at his display of deep emotion, this apparent failure of detachment. He replied that his son had died. What more appropriate time to shed tears?

Subjective emotion arises from thoughts that stray from actual reality, thoughts that catastrophize as they hook into the present and enhance it to archetypal proportion, leading to dissociation from reality.

From the place of calm detachment we see the truth and know right action. This is positive action, because whatever action that might be, it is the necessary response to the truth. If we know right action and act in accordance with it, we are in deep alignment with inner truth and feel positive, regardless of the phase of the moon. Ending a relationship, leaving a career, even leaving this world if it’s truly time to leave, brings with it an inner certainty of rightness of being that launches one’s full energy into new life.

The world is now undergoing deep transformation. Nature is daily acting out these fundamental changes. Of course, we are all free to ride the thoughts of illusion that deny the truth, or play it for profit. An alternative is to accept what is objectively there but not fall prey to catastrophic interpretation and attachment.

If we realize that our collective thought energy is what feeds the machine that controls us—or, put another way, generates the reality we live in—we are free to employ our thought energy, our intent, on positive outcome. State, for instance: “I intend a world aligned with the truth.”

See what happens!


Chuck’s Place: Managing The Heat Of Passion

Flare up of passion... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Flare up of passion…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

Emotion, red hot feeling, is the heat of passion. Whether it be passion in the form of burning sexual desire, seething frustration, or boiling rage, the energy of passion is intense and blood red.

The urging of this volatile energy to escape its containment often results in explosive actions that overwhelm the environment like a loud shock of thunder. Ever burning sexual desire can obliterate true union if its urgency of release cannot be titrated to genuinely meet and connect with another.

Much of modern psychology is dedicated to helping the ego properly channel and regulate these deeply instinctual passions in everyday life. The home base of these passions, though experienced in the body, lies deeply within the unconscious mind. Ego is not the home of passion; ego is civilized. Ego in a passionate state is either channeling a passion or is possessed by one.

Jung suggested, one hundred years ago, when we experience a passionate emotion that we pause, contain it, and ask it to present itself as an image in the psyche. Once the image presents, the ego can interact with it in an active imagination dialogue that gives voice to the image and allows the ego to mediate a solution.

The other morning, as I stepped out to feed the birds, I discovered snow and ice. I decided to snow blow, putting my brand new, bright red Ariens snowblower to the test. Before I started, I sat down to read a few pages of Going Native by Tom Harmer, a scene where he was being schooled by a shaman to take off and dry the distributor cap to a flooded engine on a tractor that was failing to start. Then I went down to the garage to start my snowblower.

It refused to turn over! Within minutes it too was flooded, but this machine has no distributor cap! I could feel the frustration rising in me, but after 15 minutes realized I had to let go. I could not make the driveway and walkway safe for others. I had to go to work.

Arriving at work, my frustration had turned to dejection. I was in no shape to greet my first client. Still seized with emotion, I decided to use the I Ching to provide me with an image, as Jung suggested, to objectify my dilemma. I received hexagram #59, Dispersion, with a nine in the sixth place, which turns into hexagram #29, The Abysmal.

The image for Dispersion is that of the wind blowing over water, breaking up and dissolving any hardness accumulated in the water. The guidance offered was gentleness that takes the ego off the hook for failure. The shamans would say, “suspend judgment.”

The nine in the sixth place states: “He dissolves his blood. Departing, keeping at a distance, going out, is without blame.” I had, in fact, dissolved the accumulated blood red frustrated state by departing, going out, and keeping at a distance from my Ariens!

The I Ching then takes me down into the ravine of the Abysmal, a doubling of the trigram water: a yang line caught between two yin lines, water trapped deep in a ravine. The yang line is creative, a masculine planner now manifesting in the world of yin, the earth.

In the ravine... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
In the ravine…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Water, in the Chinese symbology, is masculine, as its dynamic movement flows like a river. The rock walls of the ravine are feminine, solid earth that contains and gives form to the water. The secret solution for the masculine energy in the Abysmal is to allow for the slow accumulation of water in the ravine where once it reaches a certain level will naturally resume its flow.

Thus, patience is called for, not pressing forward at all costs. In my case, this meant not only letting go and walking away, as I did because I was out of time, allowing my own energy to disperse, but also allowing the gasoline to slowly disperse as it naturally will, and reading the manual—also an act of patience!—so that next time I get the choke setting correct when I fire up my mighty Ariens!

The clarity, relief, and readjustment of inner relation with my passionate unconscious, through engagement with this process of imagery with the I Ching, allowed me to receive my first client with utter calm.

Taking it slow and easy,


A Day in a Life: Thank You Shirley Temple—You Saved My Life

We're all just passing through... What do we offer? - Photo of our resident deer taking a peek inside by Jan Ketchel
We’re all just passing through… What do we offer?
– Photo of our resident deer taking a peek inside by Jan Ketchel

I grew up in an emotionless household. I write about this extensively in my books, as I faced the truths of my family of origin as well as the truths of my long-repressed childhood sexual abuse. And when I say emotionless, I really mean that.

Emotions were forbidden. Neither crying nor elation, and everything in between, was staunched. Evenness of temper, implying that nothing was ever wrong within the family unit, was critical. Imperfections, if present, were denied and suppressed as appearance was everything. Underneath the facade of perfection, however, the emotions of seven children and their parents bubbled and frothed, seeking outlet. It’s no wonder that all my siblings and I went into creative careers, as writers, musicians, artisans and fine builders. Within all of us, emotion sought release in some form of creativity.

When I was a child, at seven o’clock on Sunday nights Walt Disney presented an hour long television show. Simultaneously, WOR—channel 9 out of New York City—aired the movies of Shirley Temple. My five brothers and I fought over which show we’d watch. They usually won. They’d sit by the new TV upstairs watching the Disney show while I went downstairs into the basement to turn on the old television. I’d fiddle with the rabbit ears until grainy reception came through. The snowy picture would suddenly cut out with loud static and I’d have to get up repeatedly to readjust the antenna. I didn’t give up. It was my private time away from everyone. Sometimes my little sister, seven years younger, would sit with me, though mostly I remember being in the dark basement alone, staring into the eye of the old TV set, weeping.

You see, Shirley Temple let me cry. She never asked me to hold back my emotions. She let me be ecstatically happy and deeply sad too. She let me live beside her, feeling her emotions. In every pouty mouth and every delightful glint in her eye, I was allowed to live from a place that normally I had to keep shut down. And so, I thank Shirley Temple Black, who died this week, for offering me that emotional outlet, for all the movies she made and all the moments of release that my child self received from her child self.

She was making those movies in the thirties and forties, years before I was born, but they carried forth into the fifties and sixties all that I needed in order to connect with my deeply emotional self, a natural self that found little outlet otherwise.

Thank you, Shirley Temple, you saved my emotional life,