Why does changing the repeated patterns of our emotions and actions seem so difficult? Part of the answer can be found in our very nature. In order to survive we evolved to be sensitized to potential danger. The result is that we have what is called by neuroscience a “negativity bias,” which is a tendency to notice and remember negative thoughts, emotions and events much more easily than positive, as the assumption of danger helps us be ready for danger. This means that self-protective responses that helped us at some point, but that no longer serve us, are not so easily un-learned. The neural pathways in our brains are exactly that, pathways, and it’s always easier to walk through the woods on a path than off, so we keep taking the same paths, doing the same things unless we more fully NOTICE and REMEMBER new and potentially positive input, but to do that we need to make a practice of noticing, something that in neuroscience has been termed, “taking in the good.” We also need to learn to INTERRUPT and REDIRECT our patterns and processes, our anxieties, ruminations, and reactions. This is all part of a need to be RECEPTIVE to change in order to make it happen. While we may be consciously receptive to change, the emotional/visceral part of our minds are often self-protectively relying on known responses and closed to new possibilities. When clients are interested I use a variety of techniques to help them find a place of peace so they can loosen their grip on what they know about themselves and their world. From there we find aspects of them that don’t depend on their patterned responses to the external world, but rather on a deeper internal sense of self and peace. These techniques include guided imagery, somatic psychology and research-validated techniques using light and sound.
In a society that has become increasingly externally focused we often look for ourselves by looking to others for our reflection and value. This search in the external world for what lies in our deeper, inner experience will always fail to satisfy us and, ironically, will maintain a distance between ourselves and others, as an external search for self can only experience the external world as a mirror. While Receptive State Therapy elicits our inner, visceral experience, it is from this experience and the satisfaction that comes of knowing this aspect of ourselves that we are able to look outward and feel the satisfaction of knowing the world and the people around us. In creating a space outside of the functional narratives of our daily lives, Receptive State Therapy focuses not only on immediate, visceral experience, but on the grand, mythic narratives in which we often forget to place ourselves. We are beings who create, who question, who follow curiosity and passion, who fall in love, yet from our functional modes we tend to focus on our concerns and anxieties around what we do. This happens because our experience is optimized to focus on functionality and survival, but it is not our only option. We have all had inspiring moments in which we found ourselves surrounded by both more immediate and grander senses of life. We often assume that these moments will be few and far between, but this assumption is based on our daily experience of consciousness. Receptive State Therapy elicits states beyond this functional, daily experience and then integrates these experiences into daily life through therapeutic techniques and exercises conducted between sessions. Ultimately, both our inner lives and the functional aspects of our lives improve from our increase in creativity, perspective, problem solving abilities and inspiration.