The Empty Chair Teaching Foundation


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  1. Thank you for your posting Mike – this way of non-doing is a very potent theme for me at the moment as I realize more and more how afraid I am of non-doing – and the fear for me is a very embodied experience – I feel it as a tightness and restriction of breath in my upper body and also in my hips. I used to call it apathy or resistance, and it is, but now those terms seem a bit generic and even somehow a bit distancing from my real experience of the fear of non-doing.
    I feel a fear that this will always be the case, but was thankful to read Thomas Mertons lines particularly, and also Rilke’s words of just waiting – they give me hope that this non-doing is indeed enough.
    Deirdre (O Connor), Shillelagh, Ireland

    Comment by Deirdre O Connor — July 1, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

  2. Thank you for this respose, Deidre. It ties in very well with a thought that people have often heard me voice, “let the synergy of the relationship do the work,” In other words, in this case, we bring into awareness the fear (rather than just continuing to be a blind victim of it) and how we react to it. We can see that this is a pattern that we keep on bringing forward from a past that goes back, probably, for ever.
    Now we are in the present with the fear, we feel it in the upper body or the hips, we have a relationship to fear, IN THE BODY, it is incarnate.
    It is real; it changes; it must; everything does. We have let go of the unmoving concept of FEAR to which we were so attached and come into a tightness in the body.
    Incidentally, my lower back ache (old age) is better this afternoon!


    Comment by Mike — July 1, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

  3. As always Mike, this post resonates at a deep level with my experience, particularly the idea of “schmoozing” that which arises in me that I don’t like. Recently I have had more than the usual number of opportunities to invite my nemesis to tea. For the past 15 years I have relied on my practice as a massage therapist for financial support, massage being more in demand where I live than Craniosacral therapy. However, my hands can no longer function under the strain of such physically demanding work, so, as of June 30th, I quite doing massage entirely. In the face of the current economic climate this decision seemed counter-intuitive, yet, I felt quite positive that all would work out when the decision was made. Craniosacral clients have been few and bills have piled up on my desk, still it seemed that I was riding comfortably along within the tide. That all changed recently when my chest contracted suddenly, and with such force, that I suspected I could be having a heart attack. This is an interesting dilemma / opportunity for those of us who have no health insurance. Resigned to my possible fate, I remained very still and became fully present to the gripping, contracting force taking my body hostage. I recalled having had an anxiety attack, a somewhat similar event, thirty years earlier. Noticing the slow wave-like momentum of the ever tightening contraction, I wondered how it was that I had previously been so unaware of the FEAR. Whether this was an actual heart attack or an anxiety attack, it was clear to me by that time that I was experiencing raw fear. And something (dare I say the excellent training I have had) allowed me to welcome this experience, to schmooze it. My mind was not without it’s chatter during this event, but that too was invited to this soiree. And for all the intensity, when the party was over (it lasted perhaps 20 minutes), I simply felt myself again. I never gave it another thought until reading this post.
    Julia Marie Gillett, Ridgway, Colorado, USA

    Comment by Julia Marie Gillett — July 22, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

  4. Dear Julia Marie,
    Thank you for that very personal response to what I call the Milarepa approach to Mara or demons.

    I know you have stressed one side of your reactions for the purpose of this article and I just want to add that, as you well know, we do not have to throw away our intellects in order to be in tune with Intelligence and the Spirit. The left brain has a place and it may persuade us to have a test on the physical level as well as surrender on the spiritual level. The two levels do not have to be mutually exclusive; they are co-emergent – as some of us might say.

    Much love


    Comment by Mike — July 23, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

  5. This teaching has really resonated with me as well. It never ceases to amaze me the levels of work that show up over time, it seems there is always more to learn/experience/embody, just around the corner. I am currently “working” with a client who has stage 4 cancer and is experiencing a fair amount of pain. It was both perplexing and reassuring to me that on her very 1st appointment I kept getting the message “don’t interfere”. It was a potent reminder to stay in the present moment and just observe, be her body’s confidante so to speak. I have always felt, even in the massage therapy work that I do, that the body has a story to tell, and if we just listen it will tell us what it needs.

    My clients always seem to want to know what it is that I am “doing” in the session and this client was no different. We talked about the message of noninterference and how it applied to this type of work. She is also receiving therapeutic massage from another therapist and other types of treatment so she thought perhaps that would be interfering. I explained that that was not necessarily the case, that she should check in and see how she felt and whether or not she felt they helped her in some way. Recently she asked me again what it was that I did because it made her feel so serene and at peace. The answer actually came in the treatment we did right before her question. After all these years struggling to explain what I as doing! Whew! Very simply, I am just holding her, holding whatever it is that arises, pain, joy, sorrow, disease, health, etc. and I am joyfully receiving whatever it is, there was absolutely no judgment as to “this is good” or “this doesn’t seem right, should I try to help the body get rid of this?” (that’s been a tough one to quiet for some reason). I was able to simply observe and allow things to arise & pass without concern. The message “don’t interfere” helped so much, and whether it came from my mind or her body/mind/spirit or somewhere else doesn’t matter, it released my ego’s… is there something I need to do? The answer was simply to be present, acknowledge and appreciate whatever shows up. Working with her has really allowed me to shift into another, dare I say deeper, layer of Trust in the Intelligence over the intellect, and it is such a wonderful way to work.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for teaching this work. :)

    Comment by Ann Ealy from Omaha, NE sends this; another beautiful response... — July 25, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

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