The Empty Chair Teaching Foundation


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  1. Thanks for this, Wendy.

    You say in your response, “but where I still get hung up is when I get a thought to move my hands somewhere else.” That is exactly the problem “I get a thought” and because we have had a thought we think we have to pay it a lot of attention. We wrestle with “is it a thought” or ” is it an intuition?” “Shall I move my hands or is it just because nothing is happening right here and I note that there is some sort of stuckness in the right hip, it seems to be a bit contracted. Maybe I ought to mosey on over there. But, oh dear, I am supposed to be doing nothing and here I am thinking about doing something!! ”

    “Now I want to sneeze, there is a terrible draft coming in under the door. I asked Jack to do something about that weeks ago and, by the way, I bet he has forgotten the cat food. Never thinks about any one else, I bet he hasn’t forgotten his DVD.”

    “What patient? Oh! THAT patient. Shit, I can’t stay focussed for more than 5 minutes!!”

    A trickle of lack of self-esteem gradually expands into a torrent of self -denigration until it culminates in a Niagara of self hatred. The Dalai Lama wept when he heard, for the first time, from a panel of western psychotherapists of the western lack of self esteem.

    I like a bit of hyperbole, as you may note and none of this has anything to do with you personally, I know your work too well for that, it is just meant to illustrate from my personal experience the way the brain needs to know, even about not knowing! You may note that I have an intimate, personal, knowledge of these mind games!

    Answer; just note what is, including the what you wish wasn’t and stop getting hooked on it. It just is, right?

    The other thing Wendy, is, thanks for putting this into the pot. I wish more people would join in; it would expand the meaningfulness of this site, for us all and help me to know if we are on track for offering something useful?? Mostly, I don’t know that.



    Comment by Mike — February 5, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  2. Dear Wendy. just to round out this particular conversation and respond to your question
    “how have you moved to a new spot without getting caught in the mind games?” Its not that easy to answer in a “how to” kind of way. I think it is something like the idea arises of being somewhere else, and I am somewhere else, without any obvious intention and execution and I don’t know which is the chicken and which is the egg. Other times, the thought arises, “oh, I am here, I thought I was there!” The client has been known to express that she thought I was at the feet and at the head with one hand on the heart. That is quite difficult to do, literally. Who is to say that the sensation is wrong, though?

    Thank you for your continuing encouragement.



    Comment by Mike — February 8, 2010 @ 7:48 pm

  3. My mind is still blown by the practice of “doing nothing” – because it is such a paradox – like an attachment to non-attachment… even in the doing nothing, there still seems to be a doing…

    The sticky catch in my mind as I practice work is the desire to please… the desire to have people like me… and all of the mind games that come along with that – since I have no way of knowing the experience of any of my clients, nor do I have any control over the outcome.

    I appreciate the space that you hold for all of us in drawing us back, bit by bit, to this way of being… and I continue to work with my observer… give the observer a bigger voice than the nag!

    Lots of love, Mary

    Comment by Mary — February 25, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

  4. Dear Mary,
    Thank you and I very much resonate with your input. There is always a Doing – I suppose we can say that Being is a doing and there is no way out of this. I suppose what we try to do is to get more and more present to what we are doing and, thereby, open the possibility to being more proactive.

    Attachment to attachment must always be there I think: somehow, the expansion of awareness that allows us to see that that is so, brings us immediately, for that moment, into the present from where we can be less reactive.

    I would say we cannot get rid of attachment, even the words ‘we’ and ‘I’ are attachments, but we can expand awareness.

    Many of us have the desire to please and be liked – I do – and there again, that is neither good nor bad, it is certainly human, we just notice it.

    Thank you.


    Comment by Mike — March 1, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

  5. I thought the following poem from Jon Cassell woud nicely close out this “Doing Nothing” conversation. It is, I think, self explanatory and results from sessions with a frail, elderly lady spread over a substantial period of time.

    “All in a day’s work”.

    She is old and frail,
    Made older by pain and illness.
    She lies, her head cradled in my hands.
    I sit, eyes closed, mind in silence,
    Floating on the Tide.
    Slowly, gently, head and hands both slip away,
    And there is just a globe of light,
    The Grail? A talisman?
    No her. No me.
    Just a ball of light,
    Jon Cassell

    Comment by Mike — March 1, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

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