Self-love as a basic requirement for a happy life
Whoever succeeds in establishing contact with the primary self
in the state of being love
as well as in experiencing primary excited love.
Undoubtedly the life-affirming experience of pleasure within primary excited love is what matters in the first stage of life. This lust for bodily energy is identical to the primordial love of the self. In tune with myself, I experience being love. I am in contact with my primary self.
Returning to the body
GERDA BOYESEN, the founder of biodynamics, developed the technique of psychologically interested auscultation of the colon. This is an examination method in which, analogous to medical diagnostics, the intestinal sounds are listened to by means of a stethoscope. BOYESEN suspects that traumatic (body-)memories are held in the intestine and its smooth musculature, which, similar to those that bioenergetics has demonstrated in skeletal musculature, can be remedied by intuitively-directed touch.
It seems a pointless diversion to listen to my own bowel sounds. However, this preoccupation with myself has the following advantages: On the one hand, I am completely in the present while doing so, especially if I still touch (or allow to be touched) my body in various places while listening at the same time with the stethoscope. On the other hand I thereby switch in a mode of perception from the visual channel to the auditory channel, i.e. to a less “consumed” world of experience.
If in the process I additionally touch myself, the experience not only shifts further into the early averbal tactile-kinesthetic world, but it results quite closely in an authentic experience – via the connection to early cross-modal perception – such as that of the contented infant. I am in the primary self.
As a positive consequence of communing with my body, I will find that my touches do not leave the intestine indifferent. In all likelihood the sounds will become more effervescent, more lively; the flow of energy in the intestines, in many cases blocked for decades, will begin to flow. During this release of old tensions, we are often overwhelmed by dizziness, tingling in the extremities (shooting energy into suppressed areas of the body). Finally, when the libido flow has started again we often experience a great state of unprecedented satisfaction, of well-being.
The distrust and fear of being hurt again painfully in a state of unprotected openness is great and keeps many from engaging in such experiences. I believe that abused early childhood primal trust cannot be restored through cognitive efforts. To return to one’s own body, to allow touching oneself and others, and thus to feel, is an essential prerequisite for this.
BOYESEN speaks of the startle reflex that can arise when the child – joyfully absorbed in body exploration – is suddenly asked by an exasperated mother “What are you doing?” As this suspicious question is associated with such a joyful action as touching one’s own body, it holds unimagined dynamite. The individual distress that has resulted and continues to result for millions of people can hardly be overemphasized.
BERNIE ZILBERGELD has devoted an extensive chapter to the subject of masturbation in his book “Male Sexuality” which in detail describes the campaign that was still being operated in the forties by moral preachers of the churches and youth organizations (for example also the Boy Scouts). These campaigns have been supported by pseudo-scientific explanations of medical “experts.”
In 1948 ALFRED KINSEY succeeded with his large survey to bring light into the reality of sexual life kept under total secrecy: 92% of the men confessed to have masturbated, a large part of it also still in the adult age – without being able to discover harmful physical consequences. However, many felt strong anxiety and shame in doing so.
Although attitudes toward sexuality have changed greatly since KINSEY, there are still “authorities” today who label masturbation a sin.
That masturbation can become neurotic behavior on this background is not surprising. A fatal cycle can develop, described by a member of the self-help group “Anonymous Sexaholics” in the magazine PULS:
“After crashes I only feel emptiness. Or timitdity, disgust and enormous feelings of guilt. To cover such feelings I masturbate again – this time even more hounded.”
In this situation on the one hand prohibition fuels secondary excitement and on the other hand it prevents a truly satisfying, immediate connection to one’s own body. The rupture between the resisting impulses and the elementary but repressed needs for genuine body perception makes itself felt in an existential divisiveness, in an inner split.
The attempt to give oneself self-love physically must fail.
Body awareness as SUPPORT on the way back to primal trust
Bodily access to the state of the conscious primary self
in the here and now conveys
the primal experience of being loved.
He who “knows” that he is loved
is capable of loving himself.
Therapists who not only include the thoughts and dreams of their patients but also their body and its perception in their therapy, regularly experience that patients have a disturbed or no relationship at all to their body. When asked about this, clients often refuse to try to feel the body or confess how awkward it is for them.
Not only for the therapist but even more so for the patients, it is often surprising how individual body parts or a whole side of the body are not felt at all or are felt as “numb” or “cold”.
In contrast the head occupies a relatively overweight space; sensation of the hands and especially the legs and feet is often atrophied or absent. Patients almost hover over the insignificant lower part of the body and thus often do not “stand on the ground.”
It is worth paying extra attention to my breathing and especially to the lower half of my body. Especially the often neglected feet that carry me from morning to evening, year in year out, through the world to oh-so-important appointments.
With a loving massage, with a bath or even simply by truly perceiving them, taking time for them for once, I can “thank them”. As I relate to my body more and more I may succeed in touching it as lovingly, intimately, and with reverence as I embrace my lover, my beloved. In primary therapy the use of stuffed animals (bears, rabbits, tigers, etc.) has proven to be extraordinarily helpful. In the intimate embrace with these transitional objects the return to the primary self is easier.
In dealing lovingly with myself, I also take on tasks in terms of my own mothering. I take good care of my food, I dress lovingly, and in general I deal sensibly with myself. That is, I pay attention to my genuine physical, emotional as well as spiritual needs and avoid self-defeating behavior. Since I am in direct relation to my body, my actions become meaningful.
The bodily access to the state of the conscious primary self has a special significance. It represents the most natural access, because in doing so we hardly risk straying into dizzy mental heights or neurotic depths. Through breathing (Zazen and Vipassana in the Eastern traditions or in our cultural circle according to ILSE MIDDENDORF as well as through the self-awareness of the body posture (ELSA GINDLER, GERDA ALEXANDER, MOSHE FELDENKRAIS) we stay on the ground of reality. The more I directly and certainly relate to my body, the less I rely on learned and handed down knowledge to define my self.
The other-determined fixation gives way to a deeply felt self-confidence that can no longer be shaken by externals. At the same time I experience myself in a trusting way as part of a greater whole and therefore also feel inseparably connected to it. When I dare to return to this primal confidence I feel that I “belong”, that I am an indispensable part of this whole, that I am lovable and that I am loved.
This primordial trust nurtures “self”-love. Modern man, however, usually feels alone, primordial trust has evaporated in the fateful process of socialization as if this self-evident gift of life had never been available to us.
Whether this “must be like this” is a theoretical question. For our personal existence it is essential that it becomes possible to find back to this primordial trust and thus to the basic experience of “being loved”. Only when we succeed in this the prerequisite for loving ourselves is given.
Whoever can love himself
is able to love others
This thesis illustrates what the second part of the Old Testament commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself“, is all about; a fact that is often forgotten alongside the one-sided injunction, “Love your neighbor!”
In an attempt to question this commandment, ERICH FROMM thinks that even today we understand by “love” predominantly “to be loved.” For him, the most important question is not “Am I loved?” which is equivalent to “Am I also acknowledged?” – “Am I protected?” -–”Am I admired?”, but “Can I love at all?”.
“To love and to ‘persist in love,’ so to speak (to be in being love) is something difficult – though it does not require anything superhuman of us, but is in fact the most essential human quality.”
And why is this so difficult?
Because few are still in touch with the primal experience of being loved.
The joy of life corresponds to primary excited love.
From it arises gratitude toward existence.
Gratitude is usually not a spontaneous impulse, we feel it more as an obligation. Our relationship to gratitude is disturbed because it does not come from the heart, which would be from the primary self.
If I experience the basic state of being love, the ground for gratitude is well prepared. If in addition the experience of primary excited love is added, the real joy, the exultant experience of pleasure, I cannot but be grateful for everything, towards the people who share this joy with me, to the world, which pours out its Cornucopia over me in such a rich and exuberant way, and finally, above all, to me, my life, which makes it possible for me to experience this joy of existence.
This gratitude related to primal trust is a basic experience that does not fade even in the face of real suffering in the world.