Mindfulness & Art in Psychoanalysis.

Mindfulness in Psychoanalysis. 

Iphotoimpression.com, is a service that takes from psychoanalysis the drive to create, and mixes it up with multi-medium philosophies to arrive at instructions for a life well lived.

Ego and Instinct together create our particular brand of perspective and consciousness. It is from this seat of consciousness that we evaluate every thing we see, every thing we do, into the binomial system that we have evolved:  (0 or 1).

 (I like it, I don’t like it, I like this, I don’t like that, yes, no, I like this, I don’t like this. )

The meaning in the mindful law of attraction to psychoanalysis resides in the arena of drive and desire. The sum total of our “no’s & our “yes’s,” Becomes the aim, or direction of the instinct.  

 What you like and what you don’t like changes over time. As long as you have your consciousness, the seat from which you observe both internal and external data, you are evolving.  You are in a state of flux, of flow–flowing down-stream.

As long as your consciousness is not disturbed–you are safe. As soon as the organism is disturbed either from within or without, you experience the intrusion of stress, a slight nod from the adrenal system that subjectively we experience or ignore. (It’s probably a binomial thing).  Nonetheless, it gets louder over time.  A wound that starts out as a minor stressor can grow exponentially into an attack of anxiety–A complete overload of the immure system.

Stress is the biological response to anything that impinged on you in any way, from light, to heat, to sensation, through to thought, mood and feeling & more. We measure stress both through quantity and quality.  How much stress do you feel and how intense is the feeling?

Stress is biology. Anxiety is your conscious response to becoming aware that your biology just did something, or said something; it communicated to the aspect of you that collects and assesses that your attention is required. 

Emotions can be as smooth as a mirror-lake in the mountains, or they can churn like a restless sea in a wind blown storm. Emotions are classified first as pain or comfort and later are further classified by intensity. 

A pain can come from a sliver or from an ax; the range is regulated by how much, and how fast the Adrenalin is pouring into the system and how fast it is being absorbed. 

This is a bit like learning the meaning of shutter speed and aperture on a camera. Most of us have that feature set on either auto or a programmed mode. 

A story to go along with an idea:

Let me continue with a short story.  A old patient wanted to re-gain her spirituality; however, many years before she had had a major falling out with the Church, and eventually with all churches, indeed her fall-out with the church became her fall out with her God.  

She obsessed over her anxiety, she cried that she was alone, she pushed away anyone who tried to help her or even tried to get close to her.  Her heart was entirely closed to the idea of rekindling her relationship with God  or of attempting intimacy with anyone.  She saw beauty but could not let it in.  She turned away from truth for fear that she would be hurt by knowing it.

During one session I asked her what she thought what  might happen if she walked into a church to help her remember the smells and the sensual delights she felt when she was wrapped by a location that had previously held the peace and serenity she was wanting again.

Absolutely refused.  She was so frightened to hear rejection from any authority that she let no relationship pass the gate where her heart, her passion, for life lived in a small quiet corner, in the recesses of her heart, her  mind.  

Old anger had become a fear of feeling.  What if she heard something she did not want to hear?  What if someone suggested that she begin to proceed on a healthier path?  As long as she alone knew the source of her withholding, no one could extract it from her.  All the resistances to changing anything were stock-piled behind a concrete wall of stubborn will-fullness.

In the next session she said she saw no need to come back to analysis since it was clear that I did not know when to stop.  Her last session had produced too many feelings and she was not going to pay me just to feel worst than when she came in.

I had been accused of attempting to crush her rationalizations with mere emotion, and emotions only led a person to unreasonable positions.  

Under the totality of the narrative, the patient had created and was using all her energy to keep away feeling, leaving her with no room to create a life that might include joy, if not peace.  She was locked away, but I had picked at the lock and that sent her back in service of her ego.   I could not be trusted if she thought that the analysis would influence her.  Above everything else, she knew she did not want to be influenced by anyone.

I told her that I so despised authority that I stopped listening to myself a long time ago.

She wavered in the transference between loving to hate me and in thinking I might be as crazy as her.  That created a strong enough bond to keep the transference on a steady course.  There would be time, time to see what the relationship will look like when she begins to recognize that what she shouts most vociferously about is being a victim of her own circumstances.  She told me she abhorred victims and she thought she could chew  them up and spit them out before they knew what was happening to them.  The delusion lies not in the accuracy of that statement but in the idea that it was she who was most hurt, most devastated by her sabotaging intimacies.

What is art and what is psychoanalysis?

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There are two themes in the above introduction to this essay.  One involves what it is like to practice the art of psychoanalysis, and the second is the theme of art for art sake.  I am inclined to believe that the two marry very nicely.  Psychoanalysis has a lot in common with art, both require a lot of technical training and both have foundations in altruistic aspects of being humans.  I am very interested in humans, they interest me as much as the other parts of nature do.  Pine trees and red leaf maples are gorgeous like some humans are.  Filthy dying swamps and the smell of low-tide also have a wabi-sabi kind of charm that smells like other aspects of humanity.

Perhaps it is in the attainment of a goal that the two disciplines meet.  When I am involved with a digital painting or with a patient, nothing else is around to distract me from my mission in the moment–to do the best that I can to represent and impress truth and beauty.  I use the word impress as the root of the word impressionism.

Psychoanalysis has a lot in common with impressionism.  Transference between the patient and the analyst  is emotional impressionism.  The painting above is an impression of Canada a place where much of my love is stored among the antiquities of my ancestors–poor farmers creating large families to populate the cold northern part of America, baptized as much by native Americans as by the English or the French.

To think like an artist and to think like an analyst require similar talents.  Both causes require talent and both causes require time and dedication as well as a deep respect for the wisdom of witnessing as a form of cure for the existential conditions that humankind faces today in 21st century civilization.  So many minute decisions are involved in the exact shade of color that is chosen and so many minute decisions are involved in deciding when an intervention is called for and when it is best withheld.  

The disciplines of psychoanalysis and the disciplines of art require tremendous consideration be given to the subjective…is this a zero or is this a one? 

Both disciplines necessitate boldness as well as empathy and contemplation. 

Both require a gentle application of knowledge and neither can be rushed.  There is a form of the sacred to both endeavors.  In each form there is great desire to contribute.

Color, mood, form, lines, boundaries, choices, and “decisions and revisions” are always at play. 

The Good Part is knowing that I never know the out-come before I start, I do not know the out-come until I am finished.    I think both aspects of me have enjoyed the moments during which I was engaged.  Both applications of myself take me out of my shell, my solitude, my narcissism, long enough to find and express joy in the process as much as the product. 

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defense as the object of analysis

ego defense-Edit.jpgIt is always about the object of analysis.  The object of the Analysis is the process of the analysis.  All faculties of the mind/body matrix are accessed.  The subjective arena in both the patient and the analyst make up the content, the narrative if you will. There is no other content other than what is brought into the room for a semi-sacred conversation that ensues.

The defense is always the resistance to knowing more.  Closing the psychic door to additional facts and feelings is a form of isolation that the patient brings into the room and has used this defense in a multitude of other ways.  The only way we shall take interest in the resistance defense is in how it manifests itself between the patient/analyst dyad.

Why has the patient suddenly stopped coming forward?  What internal diversion caused the conversation to shift and what has it shifted to?  There is a kind of detective work to analysis, a search for clues that widen the pursuit of self-truth and self-knowledge.

Since all conflict is within and since most patients come in trying to avoid conflict, the task is huge, not insurmountable but big. The nature of trust is an aspect of the relationship that can take the longest to produce fruit.  Condemnation is feared.

It Would Not Matter Tomorrow

It Would Not Matter Tomorrow

At least that is how he chose to bear and grin the anger, and the sadness that was exposed on his face. Everything took time to heal and somethings never healed at all. Snapped bones and disease he knew about, but the fragmented emotions they receded to a location that his ancestors called the soul. And to Caleb that was still mysterious.

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All we know now about these emotions is that they hide in the body until they can not hide. In time they become a disease that language recognizes, and from the beginning, they are a story, a narrative that forms what we call life–the force of being alive.
Maybe the genome for feelings will be discovered. Freud had hoped that chemistry would dismantle our need for neurosis, but neither Westinghouse, nor General Electric has provided much to go on.
One hundred and thirty years ago these dreams-things were the promise of charlatans. I am not sure much has changed. The more I can live with death the more I can live out my consciousness to its fullest.
………………………………………
Darkness is not sweet. You can not pretty-up a red-winged hawk flying away with a five pound Yorkie in its claws. But, shit happens. And when you are through watching that gruesome image fly away, a dear friend calls to say she is beginning treatment for lung cancer. And, did you know the boy that is maimed for life when his motorcycle slid off the road. He hit a patch of salt and sanding from winter. “No”, “he was not wearing a helmet.”

Where does healing come in? What exactly can be healed? Is it ever the mind and not the body, or ever the body and not the mind?
Essentially there are two elements that might concern us: one is light and the other is darkness. They are analogous to being awake and being asleep, to being conscious and being unconscious.
Someplace between these two polarities, we practice something called “falling ill” and “becoming well”. We exist on a plane between these extremities. The healing arts and sciences attempt to move energy along this loading line. When you fall ill you struggle to pick yourself up–this is the process of healing.

If I can help you with this process I am attempting to practice a healing scheme. I am going to use my emotions, whatever they are to understand you. And in the process of attempting to understand you, we might make a connection, a transference of energy between us. This fusion of energy might be just the additional guide that you need to discover your way back from the darkness and toward the light.
Nothing might change. But the transference of energy is felt and recognizable as a process. Guidance does not come from another’s knowing. Guidance is simply additional energy to light the way.
Good friends know this as Love

 

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Abstract Expressionism: the spectrum of energy

writing with light and psychoanalytic conversation have this in common:  both are enhanced by the polarities of existence.  both are engaged in what is present and what is missing.  each case is informed by the extremities in a system of energy.

darkness is as revealing as light, shadows are as important as highlights. balance and beauty and truth converge into a singularity leading to the illusion of oneness.

 

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my artwork has evolved from impressionism to expressionism.  this new method of working in the world of abstraction has expanded my vision.  it is the unconscious made conscious by free-association.  here meaning and reason have less to do with outcome; and. process is once again central. it has always been for me.

i find beauty in the subjective, that is to say, i find beauty in the creation of sensation through a steady alertness to evolution.  everything, including the universe, is always and only moving forward through the spectrum of light and energy.  all photography is capturing a single moment in time and space.

the process is meditative.

 

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Languageless Regions

“from 25 or 30 sounds an infinite variety of expressions, which although not having any resemblance in themselves to that which passes through our minds, nevertheless do not fail to reveal all of the secrets of the mind, and to make intelligible to others who cannot penetrate into the mind all that we conceive and all of the diverse movements of our souls.”
Noam Chomsky
The infinite variety of expressions is the endless variety of narratives that we spin in our subjective mind then merge that spin with life on earth in all of its dimensions…Language Acquisition is the divide between a chimp and a human…we still have access to that languageless region. It is the well-spring of creativity. But it is best accessed from a position of still point.

Quieting the mind, quieting the ego aspect of the mind is essential to gaining the glimpse that we need to be connected to the primitive aspects of our survival.  The connection with our DNA is consciousness.  It has both a linguistic shade to it and a languageless shade to it.

The languageless region is often frightening because we expect to find darkness. And then complicate what we find with a story.  The moth has two possibilities, flying too close to the flame or wandering too far from the warmth.

As human animals, accessing our ancient instincts needs deliberate intent because the language part of us has so advanced that the instinct part of us recedes further and further back.  This makes it difficult to find our way through the jungle of neurotransmitters to where earlier survival skills were dominant.  We still need these ancient survival skills. Much of modern medicine is not trained in the use of the subjective to access illness in the body.

Principles of therapeutic yoga are in line with psychoanalytic thinking.  Both systems of healing are aware of the importance of the unconscious.  In psychoanalysis, the unconscious is an element of consciousness “beneath the surface”.  In Yoga, the unconscious is the body.  The sensations that are felt are languageless messages from the body to the mind.  We can stray from our desires if we have not understood the body’s message to our consciousness.

Modern humans tend to feel these ‘sensation-messages‘ then proceed immediately to creating a narrative, a story which we tell ourselves. In analysis we spend a lot of attention on the narrative. In yoga, the time is spent on understanding the sensation not as words, but as a languageless communication.

The most attractive part of this lesson on biology and evolution is the tremendous boost that we can get from our own instinct of creativity.  Here is a picture that emerged from my languageless region:

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ST. AUGUSTINE, 450th anniversary: the environ

Preface:

It could only be better if it were Quebec rather than St. Augustine.  I say that because Quebec owns my heart and I tend to find beauty where I love.  But we are here and it is now, and that means photos and enhancements, and trials and errors, even during dinner.  It is very difficult for a photographer to escape without his camera.  It is all somewhat of a bus-man’s holiday.  It may be intrinsic to how I see.  I am a Naturalist.  The laws of nature are all around me.  I see them, and they are not watching me.

 

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As well as having my camera with me as a companion when I set out to write, I take my fascination for light and darkness as more than a metaphor.  I am a Naturalist.  My world is ever changing.  I am aware of moments of simple awe, and moments complicated by  compound-complex sentences that refuse to end.

A current phrase that I hear said to me is:  “Let it go, Man!”

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So, I let it go.

The pictures that are in this “note” are a product of the gifts of solitude and consciousness that arose out of “letting-it-go”.  I want to elevate these qualities to a near divinity, but they are so human, and ever so woven into the daily evolution of life, that they fail when I attempt to cut them away from the mother plant.  It is not divine consciousness that I elevate, it is Human Consciousness.

The simple observation of the wind, or the odor of sulphuric-salt at low-tide, these enable me to see the greater natural beauty that is St. Augustine. We live on the cusp of what mother nature knows is her land.  Not unlike the attempt started 450 years ago to claim the land for humans from humans, Mother Nature has had her eye on our bay-front for her own use.  St. Augustine is trying to save the shoreline for mother nature’s use.  But, even these interventions are an interruption, a cancer that we humans bring with our civilized footprints as fossils for future archaeologist. St. Augustine has a predilection to Pompeii, and to New Orleans.

the oldest city street on the continent

In the summer St. Augustine is a mix of Floridian consciousness with a touch of the tropics that it borders.  We live at the sea level of water, much like New Orleans, or Dutch Holland.  We are intrinsically woven with the sea, into the sea, and the sea is woven into this shoreline that is us.  We know it is the Laws of Nature that govern, and we know that the Law governs as an absolute monarch.  It is as merciless as the Spanish Inquisition or a Roman conquest.  Mother-Nature rules Absolutely. No amount of self-worth or self-pride can out veto a “NO” vote from mother nature.

We killed the previous owners of this land and we now call it ours.  As such, I photograph the land as if it were mine, and I was taking a picture to prove its inheritance.   We are western civilization.

Crossing the Bridge Of Lions on a soft summer evening can feel as glorious as Venice, or as tame as St. Augustine,  and the lens, my companion, searches for an intersection of lines and light.

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I enjoy the fascination of finding a fisherman crouched beneath a bridge fishing for life and maybe even for fish.  He seems to not notice 30,000 people circulating around his nest. He carries a tool box for line and hooks, and a knife as any hunter should.  He hunts.

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Others sail!

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Contrast in St. Augustine is relatively easy to fine.  We must be looking for it.  We must be deliberate about when we choose the moment to shoot.  There are two moments in Art: deliberated and un-deliberate.  The common sense choice is an extension of being deliberate.  It occurs for me when I am closest to belonging.

pedestrian bridge

In the theater of Humanity, we have so often come away from life to find a point of observation that captures more than the light dancing on an object.  We would like to come away and find a purpose higher than our own internal, subjective point of view.  I seem to find it more quickly when I am working with the elements of Nature directly.

There is a meditative aspect to art that is linked to both the cause of the piece and the execution of the piece.   A Naturalist that I have great respect for is Mr. Henry Beston.  The following is a quote from 1949 forward of his book, The Outer Most House:

“Man can either be less than man or more than man, and both are monsters, the last   more dread.”

an intersection of line and light

The stage at the center of town, holding court, held little interest for me.  The masses captured by a slogan and swaying to the odor of ale, did not impress me.  The town on which this stage is raised, however, does call to me.  It calls to me because the past has not been deliberately hidden.  The awful scars of righteousness and bigotry do not seem to be as hidden as they might be in other small southern towns.  The sins and atrocities of man seem to become part of the fabric of here.  Though, there does appear to be a lot of civic pride about a massive blood-bath in the Matanzas river.

I think of it as the respect for art and architecture.  St. Augustine envelopes most visitors at least at first sight.

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El Galeon, an authentic replica of a 16th century Spanish War ship was one such recent visitor.  We stood on the bridge and watched her come in from the inlet at Vilano and move slowly into the bay front.  Spanish and American flags waved her into place.  She was here to be a part of a festival of celebration.

I find her to be a majestic aspect of St. Augustine’s past.  We were, after all, held here by royalty.  And, for as little as we try to make of it in today’s world, we certainly have been deeply influenced by the behavior of royalty and its part in domesticating western civilization.

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This floating art work is a salute to war and the spoils of war. Most of what we have acquired was stolen or forced away from its natural habitat.  Our consciousness belongs to Nature, it has evolved along side the earth since the beginning of time.  We are the furthest-most extension of Nature that we have found anywhere in the universe.  And our little town of St. Augustines is such a representative gem in that crown of thorns.

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Our town is a triumph of man against nature.  See what we have cut out of mother nature and put in its place.  See how architectural transplants have added multiple uses to the marsh lands. so many more uses than mother nature had intended for this piece of little paradise.

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Evolution is just another name for the slice of life that we have become.  Migration of species moves to a natural order, an order of not-knowing that bothers our consciousness.  Freud would say that psycho-analysis disturbed the sleep of the world.  That German-Jew knew what he was talking about.  We do not want to know that what we have created is created on a bed of sand that has an equal capacity to move from beneath as it does from above.  A foundation of shifting sand brings no comfort. The answer may not be a bigger wall unless we are deliberate about the fact that a bigger wall will only postpone what mother nature, in the long run, will re-capture as hers.  She is a formidable Queen every bit as powerful as Isabell or Elizabeth.  She is mother to every Queen that ever ruled.

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There will be more about mother nature in St. Augustine in a separate post.  This post will connect with an episode from the Caleb Sagas.

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No Two Moments Are Alike

 

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Honesty seems to live just below the surface of consciousness.  It is not deeply fastened to the lower brain functions, it is not unconscious.  However, in the semi-conscious state where it exists, it needs to be seduced out deliberately if it is to be of any use.

I am curious about the statement that makes up the title of this mini-essay: ” No two moments are alike.”  I remember being mystified for quite some time when I first learned that no two snow-flakes were a like.  I am mystified in the same way about this recent thought that I have been having.

At this point in our collective development as humans, most of us can accept the “here & now” of current life.  We are surrounded with mindful reminders of “live for today,” “only one day matters. today, because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not here.”  The here and now has been relegated to a  cute little phrase that is comfortable and not offensive to anyone.

Add the concept of believing in a deep and loyal commitment to oneself, and most of us run as fast as we can, taking our un-resolved self with us.  We do this from one moment to the next. And, some of us do it for a life time.  Honesty as a form of communicating between aspects of yourself is a skill that must be learned.  It is not a given that on our own we will find the route to nirvana or honesty.

Honesty is eclipsed by the ego through a myriad of defenses and coping skills that are neuronal connections.  To work with the authentic self, we must risk the emotional discomfort of shame, ignorance, guilt, arrogance, grandiosity, imperfection, and most of all a gigantic ego that demands respect while advocating complete control of the human mind.

In exchange for protecting us, the ego demands 100% entitlement to righteousness.  The ego has no use for intuition, the subjectivity, the dream-like images of what ever we can conjure up.  Matters of the heart are like Ladies in the court of Henry VIII.

The concept of deliberate intent is again being called on.  If we want to be honest with ourselves, we have to commit to a practice that is consistent and supportive.   As well, we have to be prepared to chase away the demon nay-sayers.  The one we hear outside of us and the eternal ones that come from ancestry.

Moving to honesty is a paradigm switch.  Nothing that we thought we knew applies to our discovering our own neuro-pathways.  Thinking is not particularly useful in getting there.  There may be a constitutional resistance to even wanting to know the truth as you may feel a need to punish yourself according to pre-renaissance torture treatments.  Perhaps the source of our modern day hell is the souls of men who have created human atrocities.

Hell is too frighteningly close to honesty.  It heats up the fears to such an intensity that deliberate search for the still-point is unconsciously abandoned.

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