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Is Self-Regulation The Key?
We have just had a peak experience and we are ecstatic. Why is it wise to steer our effulgent emotions into modest expressions? How would we benefit from understanding our own irrationality or our sticky nature? In craniosacral healing the accent is on learning new or additional skills to self regulate. Not just our positive feelings, most definitely our unpleasant ones.
We can express irrational behavior, arising from eventual disappointment, post the intensity of a peak experience. Because our hopes and expectations are tied up with desires to experience life consistently at a peak level. Which perhaps translates into wanting heightened involvement in all aspects of living. This is resourceful for obvious reasons and bad as it could be driving our cortisol levels to unmanageable highs, but so what; experience is everything (sic).
The problem arises when we can’t get past the monumental pressure we put on ourselves to live life on this edge constantly. Another setback occurs when people don’t repeat a peak experience. Or when they experience it not at all. They fall short of their projected reality (what they expect or want) and suffer thereof.
Is Self Actualization Only For Some?
Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model describes what could be a peak experience. Everyone would want to be on top of his pyramid having self actualized and reached human potential. An experience that’s “joyous and exciting” is peak, he says, and moreover it may introduce us to an expanded way of experiencing reality. We are then no longer the same person. We have different eyes and ears to withhold our world. That’s the good part.
While striving to reach top place, they also discover the difficulty of sustaining euphoria, as also the loss of their closest relationships.
In spite of everything, many clients that seek craniosacral healing consider themselves furthest from this self-actualization. They struggle with the notion that a peak experience – something of profound significance is not for them, and they are born to mediocrity. They hold scant recollection of moments in their life that were/are filled with joy, wonder or value. In therapeutic terms they are under resourced.
How May we Re-define a Peak Experience?
Chasing a need for experiencing life other than what is, keeps us looking for what’s not there, and missing what’s there. So-called psychosomatic illnesses translate from this profound discontent, in the way of negative thought patterns and irrational emotions turning into idiopathic dis-ease. So, does one need the familiarity of only a peak experience to sense ones connectedness with life? Not at all!
When crushed by experience of physical pain, for instance, it’s difficult to recall the most wonderful memories, from our bank. The default negative bias of our brain makes us remember the worst. In this healing touch therapy – craniosacral therapy – some clients for the first time tumble against a buried memory of having been happy, excited, deeply moved, or even feeling blessed. It is true then, in therapy clients begin to perceive reality differently.
I invite my clients to find within themselves or outside of themselves memories of smaller realistic representations of a peak experience. These remembered events should excite and inspire us; raise our HRV (heart rate variability); spike our vagal tone, (a term coined by Stephen Porges). A friendly face we regularly encounter, being on a nature walk, waking up to a feeling of ‘all is well’, sunburst sunsets, deriving satisfaction from watching our kids grow, stroking our pet, smelling sweetened rain-washed mud, letting a million expressions of sand particles on a beach explode on our feet…
Self-Acceptance Leads to Self Discovery
There are many ways to experience joy. There are other ways to have a peak experience rather than The Ultimate One.
Developing a new skillful relationship with our breath can also bring about a peak experience. It takes us closer to our heart space, where original joy resides. You can’t get any closer to the truth of who we are. In the succinct words of Rumi, “when you feel a peaceful joy, that’s when you are near truth.”
Similarly what we do in sessions is keeping it simple. Inviting the smallest of joyous, healthy, and steady places in our body to lead us to our truth. Connecting to our biology – our every cell – brings us to a place of self-acceptance, for in every cell are laid our happy and sad memories. We can choose to align with both and use the happy ones to release the grip of the sad ones, instead of pushing the latter away.
Fleeting Moments Offer Peak Involvement
For a client, felt-sensing joy or pleasure in the body versus it being a mind related activity, for the very first time, is indeed a peak experience. And this, unlike a peak experience from life, isn’t clung to, as these sensations are transitory in nature. We learn to enjoy them fully. Then we release them.
Keeping it simple also means to forget our fascination with form, to re-experience the same joy again and yet again like a novice. Only then can we fill up with awe each time – and truly experience the awesomeness around us. In the words of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow, “The self expands through acts of self forgetfulness.”
3 Ways to Define Your Experience as Peak
An event is life changing and significant, when it brings with it, heightened self-awareness.
The event is complete unto itself, and generates a positive inclination in us towards all things.
At a moment like this, the experiencer orients to collective consciousness – at one with all.
3 Ways to Align Yourself to ‘The Peak Value’ of Your Experience
Find ways to ascertain the feeling that arises. Observe its emergence and decline. Its usefulness is your reward.
Live the peak moment as if it were your last. Nothing is gained from creating pain from remorse of its passing. Its short life is a gift.
Retain your ability to be in constant awe. You will be richly compensated for seeking out the smaller joys of life.