I heard this term in a yoga lecture the other day and I was struck by how true it is, especially now within the yoga world, where there is so much emphasis on how you look in your leggings or yoga bra, and how you compare to others. When you get to be a crone – like me – you don’t much care anymore. The same thought also occurred to me both in another lecture by Gabor Mate who has written the book “Hold Onto Your Kids” and who is so wise when it comes to authenticity. He maintains that if we let our children get too separated from us and take their value system from others, then they will too become despairing. And finally when I was walking through the park this morning and saw so many young children doing school sports days, I noticed how often the little ones when it came to the final few metres when they could perhaps win; they would nearly always look to the person running near them and fall or fail. Rudolph Steiner about whom I do not know a lot, but I do remember one of his maxims was to anchor the child in its own existence. Perhaps if there were more of this in UK society we wouldn’t have the government that we have, who offer no clear leadership or authority.
BROKEN RECORD. NAGGING. BORING….
Ever been criticised by friends or family for coming back to the same point over and over again? Its not your fault. There is. a brain structure called the Anterior Cingulate Cortex which in its dorsal aspect is responsible for rerunning the same programme over and over again. The ACC is linked to the fear network in the brain too. So its one of the reasons that women particularly get stuck in fear and depression, not being able to motivate themselves out of a situation for example abuse because their brains are literally STUCK IN THE SAME PROGRAMME. BEING AWARE OF THIS THROUGH Yoga MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS enables the person TO TAKE ACTION TO CHANGE THE SITUATION.
How do changes in the brain during adolescence lead to integration and more efficient functioning? Pruning and myelination are at the heart of this vital period of remodeling.
— Read on www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/inspire-rewire/201402/pruning-myelination-and-the-remodeling-adolescent-brain
This can help to explain the high rate of suicide and mental trauma amongst young people, especially., boys..
Glimpsing this morning how separated I am from myself, by wanting desiring to be other than who I am. Desiring qualities of grace beauty and truth as if they are outside me, and not within. Seeing how this breaks me off more and more into a creature of wanting, and not embodiment. I am these qualities and I allow them to shine through….
Beloved sounds through
Silken dusk. Guide me home to
Wisdom of my heart.
Deconstructing the pleaser.
With gratitude to Genpo Roshi
and Andreas Wisniewski.
A major AHA moment happened for me last year whilst in Salt Lake City on a sesshin with one of my teachers; Zen master Genpo Roshi.
After 17 years of rigorous zen practise and a kick ass yoga schedule, I finally realised that there is after all, nothing to gain.
This realisation reverberates now on and off through much that I do, and has been responsible for what could be seen from the outside, as a withdrawal from the outer world, of doing, of doing to an inner world of being.
Becoming my own best friend was my goal, and I can tell you if I had a best friend like me, it would have been over a while ago.
Since that moment I have been dismantling the pleaser..this skilled and insecure drama queen that has had an enormous role in my life, inspiring me to great heights, yet also fucking up my life. Including my yoga practise which was for the last 16 years mainly associated with trying to please my teacher Andreas Wisniewski. And failing quite spectacularly.
My Buddhist practise consisted of desperately trying to penetrate the reality of what it means to be enlightened and being whipped, kicked, and generally whopped along the way (Token’ s 49 blows, folks,)
It’s only really started to sink in in the past 12 months. There really is no one to please. I mean people give a slight fuck, but not much.
With regard to yoga practise this is important. Examine the pleaser people. How much of your practise is about pleasing the teacher, or the guru, or the father, or mother, or society. And how much is about pleasing your ego.
To drop beneath all this, has been liberating. Very challenging too. But being released from the need to please ( by myself) has had a hugely positive affect on my life, and my health, and my yoga practise.
Really the more you try to please others, or some disembodied idea of Buddha, God, et al, generally, the less you please yourself. It’s so simple but it has taken me a very long time, and a lot of pain to learn. It has also cost my mother her health and her home. So she has been my uncsoncious bodhisattva. I am grateful Mummy.
There are many layers to the pleaser. It begins ( if you are from my generation) by observing that in the home, it was the man who was pleased, and the women generally revolved around creating this situation. Of course there is the repressed or suppressed aspect of this in the women that please. This plays out with food disorders, dissociation, depression, anxiety and massive disempowerment.
So it’s in a way less painful just being the pleaser until you have disentangled all the various aspects, or as they say in Zen circles pulled up or out the pattern by its roots.
The roots include :the little girl begins to please her father.
She is rewarded in this by the attention of the main male.
It becomes a habit, a pattern and a samskara.
Even now in yoga classes-retreats, I will see myself play out this role until I catch the pattern, and go below to the real truth of the teachings.
Then there is the sanctioning by society of the pleaser. Non pleasers don’t really do so well in society unless they can find a nice monastery to hide out in.
Before it’s possible to transcend this pattern and choose neither the pleaser or the displeased you have to spend some time hanging out in both.
Really see beneath, above, around, and in and out this one.
Even my obsessive continuous desire to be thin has been motivated by a subconscious desire to please. Not only my father, but also society.
To really pull this stuff up by the roots you have to see it and make it conscious. Be Cognitive.
Be aware that in yoga and Buddhism there are a hell of a lot of disembodied pleasers operating. It’s one of the reasons that female students have such violent responses to the behaviour of the male teacher who misbehaves.
It’s also one of the reasons that the #metoo movement is so fucked up.
I am NOT blaming women who accuse the men they have possibly previously been working with.
But really if you want to transcend this pattern, you have to look reality clearly in the face.
The women have been employing the pleaser, and then the emotions they have suppressed in the role play come tumbling out as anger, fury, revenge, disgust.
It is not so much an attack on the man who provoked the situation, but something bigger. A huge fury against the whole of society for forcing women to be in those roles. But there’s no way out through court action and accusations. Unless it goes deeper, it will just be perpetuated. We have to look at the biggest picture without blame. If not we stay stuck in the victim/ perpetrator /rescuer triangle.
In yoga I didn’t understand why my practise was starting to fell like a punishment, why I felt so numb, why there was nothing that felt pleasing. I was still working to the agenda of the pleaser.
Only since I have given up, with many overwhelming emotional and painful solitary yoga practises that I broke through to a place of more connection, more gentleness, more empathy. Pleasing myself.
I have learned and I am still learning to accept and embrace my depression. In the spirit that everything is a gift, and even the most desperately painful experiences we have are given to help us. Anti anything is really not going to help.
i have taken anti depressants on and off for 16 years. Recently I stopped. My yoga and meditation practise are able to help me now wee the mind off my addict, which began when I was a small child unable to receive nurture and understanding. I have forgiven my parents by now, but having read Gabor Mates work on addiction I now understand that the lack of connection fostered a need that kept playing out in my life until recently.
when I meditate I can see the inner addict, and I can see how she I see just a small child lost in need. Then i can feel compassion for her, and the need disappears.
Thus with the anti depressant medication. I needed it to cure the need. It became a chemical dependency u til I could mindfully navigate what was happening in my brain to cure the need. I send my hippocampus love and impassion. I energise my amygdala and balance out the left and right sides. I do this energetically to work on the parts of my brain that didn’t develop well due to childhood trauma and neglect. It seems to be working!
Whilst I am still at the beginning of the exploration of how yoga can increase neuroplasticity, neuron firing, and recruit parts of the brain to function more efficiently, and better; I am able to state clearly that yoga will help you to become more mindful, to sleep, feel increased joy, and to have a healthier brain function. Most importantly regular yoga practise is one of the easiest and most effective ways of working with insomnia. The key is to gently move the nervous system away from the stress response over time, towards the parasympathetic response, and to a balanced possibility between stress and relaxation. Mindfulness and yoga together can also help heal depression, ME, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and a host of other mental disturbances. I have been working with yoga practise and mindfulness intensively in a therapeutic way for over 2 years and I have been able to largely heal my insomnia (40 years in) anxiety and depression. This is in the main due to yoga practise, and Buddhist meditation. I am now training with the Minded Institute in London to further this research and work.
Is never what you think or expect it to be. By its very nature it cannot be contained, only allowed. Within our yoga practise we can create space by surrendering to the moment deeply, allowing difficult feelings to arise, and penetrating beyond them. In the same way the mind can create space. But if we have expectations about how it “should” be, then we lose the freedom and possibility of allowing the non conditioned mind to arise.
Sleep is one of the joys in life; a blessing, and a right. However its all to easy to be tortured by a lack of sleep, and an inability to get to sleep. I have experienced this for most of my time on earth. Until recently.
For the past 2 years I have worked intensively to bring my sleep patterns towards a healthy norm. Yoga and meditation have helped tremendously with this. As have diet, exercise, relationship, and MOST importantly breath, and rest.
Despite a lifetime of not sleeping, I now sleep healthily. It has been an enormous relief to be able to sleep. My mental health has improved considerably, I now tolerate change, difficulty and challenge.
Resetting the nervous system through regular practise is absolutely key. Practising coherent breathing over and over again, during the night and day has been key. It’s not fun sometimes but the gentle overall effect is extraordinary.
My depression and anxiety cycle has been interrupted and I now plan life with optimism and not crisis management.
I can offer sleep management programs as part of my therapy work. Please use the contact information to get in touch.
RIP dr Shiniaki Hinohara
There shall never be one lost good! What was, shall live as before;
The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound;
What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;
On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven a perfect round.
Robert Browning. Abt Vogel