May 26, 2013 by Ken Walton
There is a polarity in orientation in the western healing community between surrendering to suffering versus removing suffering. The diverse healing modalities, both within bodily and psychologically oriented traditions, live on this continuum. In (what I am calling) ‘removal healing’ systems, when a symptom of suffering manifests, the primary mode is to remove, clear, or purge the suffering. In ‘surrender healing’ systems the primary mode is to surrender, yield, and receive the suffering. The interaction between removal and surrender systems are incredibly complex and exist on a continuum. They can either be mutually supportive of each other, or antagonistic. In this writing I hope to give a concise explanation of these interactions, outlining the complexity of the landscape of western healing systems.
Removal healing systems strive to get rid of suffering. It perceives pain as extraneous to healthy human functioning. The suffering is not innate to the person, but instead is something unwanted which has come from outside which needs to be removed. Its goal is to create a state of health in which one is pain free. It aspires to create a state of happiness and pleasure. Thoughts are positive, hopeful and optimistic. Its actions are productive, and efficient. In contrast, surrender healing strives to live with suffering. Pain is perceived as being endemic to the human condition. Suffering is an innate experience originating within side somebody. Optimal health is achieved through integrating and evolving within and through pain. It aspires to create wisdom and understanding. Thoughts are realistic and genuine. Actions are guided by faith and truth.
There are many different descriptors that can distinguish these two different healing systems. The actions taken in healing through removal are: clearing, purging, dissipating and eliminating. It is uses egoic will to take action, to affect, and overcome. Removal healing brings a feeling of lightness and freedom. The movement is forward up and out. In contrast, the actions of healing through surrender are yielding and receiving. It is using the will of faith to let go and be affected. Surrender healing has a feeling of deepening, complexifying and expanding. Surrender healing brings a feeling of density, and authenticity. The movement is back, down, and in. It is finding the root cause, the origin, the essence, the core.
Removal healing is about removing pain, suffering, and perceived pathology, in order to regain equanimity and balance. The symptomatic discomfort is seen as throwing oneself out of attunement with the natural health of nature. Removing both the psychic and physical pain allows more harmonious feelings to emerge. In distinction, surrender healing perceives suffering as a natural part of existence, the goal being to live with suffering. It is about allowing suffering to create change and transformation within somebody. Integrating suffering within one’s being. Pathology is perceived as signpost to discover a deeper, more complex state of health. To live and evolve within the natural cycle of creation and destruction. Understanding this different language can help one distinguish whether a healing system is either one of removal or surrender.
Every healing system can be traced along a continuum between removal and surrender healing. Both the psychological and body oriented traditions fall somewhere along this polarity. I will give examples of both psychic and body healing systems that lie on the extreme ends. This will provide illustration, and help concretize these difference. In psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural therapy lies on the extreme end of removal healing, and existential psychotherapy lies on the extreme end of surrender healing. Within the incredible complexity of yoga tradition, on the extremities it is both used as a removal and surrender healing.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (C.B.T) is an extreme removal healing system. C.B.T. removal healing is optimal for professional athletes, to use an example. Negative and doubtful thoughts, or depressive or anxious states, are counterproductive for success of high performance competition. An athlete would come to psychotherapy to help remove these obstacles; in order to help him/her to achieve his/her predefined goals. They seek help to strengthen their egoic will, their ability to take action, and overcome adversity. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (C.B.T.) is an affective removal healing system to achieve this. ‘Thought records’ would be applied to track and remove any thoughts (cognitions) which are not helpful to the athlete’s productivity. For example, black and white thinking like ‘I am not good enough’ or ‘Nobody likes what I am doing’ would be altered to show why somebody is good at their sport, and that people do appreciate what they are doing. Specifically, any thoughts which result in a person having ‘negative’ moods would be targeted. To altered one’s mood in order to have ‘happy’, and upbeat feelings. This results in an extroverted state of being highly functional within one’s sport. C.B.T. would also track one’s behaviours to make sure that the athlete engages in behaviours which aid their athletic performance. Behaviours which support physicality, and productivity. For example, at times of experiencing low moods to go for a run. Through tracking both cognitive and behavioural processes, non-productive mood states such as depressive or anxious feelings, and emotions such as grief or fear (to name a few), would be reduced. C.B.T. removal healing can reduce any psychic obstacles which hinder one for implementing one’s egoic skill in achieving predetermined goals.
On the opposite extreme, existential psychotherapy epitomizes the surrender healing system. Negative thoughts and depressive feeling states are seen as a surface symptom which connects one to the reality of the human condition. It is the raw material to guiding one into the destructive/creative, inward reflective reality of the human experience. Existential psychotherapy engages one’s suffering and tracks it down to the fundamental core of reality. Major themes which revolve around these symptoms are life and death, meaning and meaninglessness, connection and aloneness. To surrender one’s egoic preconstructed will of how one wants to live. Instead, to accept the reality of the predetermined deep construction of one’s life patterns which lives through you. Which create the patterns of one’s life, uncontrollable by one’s egoic will. To have faith in the regenerative nature of existence, supporting what one can’t yet see. To take the hit, allowing one’s egoic heroic will to be pierced in the heart, taking on the thorny reality of one’s deep psychic state. States of heart break, gratitude, reverence and awe come through this experience.
Existential psychotherapy surrender healing is optimal for an artist. Artists aspire to depict, replicate, and become apart of the creation of reality. Existential psychotherapy helps artists accept, and integrate the reality of these states into their art form. In distinction to C.B.T., which used specific predetermined healing techniques, existential psychotherapy would have faith to receive, to yield to the continual emergence of the depth of the symptom. ‘Negative’ moods such as depression, grief, shame, and fear are seen as endemic to the human condition. The ‘technique’ of existential psychotherapy would be to focus consciousness more intensely on the suffering. Being aware and having care for the reality of the experience, allowing the depth of its existential construction to materialize. Within a therapeutic relationship, the act of surrendering to the psyche becomes a template for an artist to surrender to being of service to the creation of art.
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Future Writings –
1. Negative projections from the different healing communities
2. Removal and Surrender Healing Working Together
3. What is the most evolutionary healing system at different points of one’
4. Cultural biases to the different methods.
And much more ………….