Growing Beyond FLEE and FIGHT

Flee or fight?

I went to a very special seminar called Somato Respiratory Integration (12 stages of Healing) by doctor Donald Epstein Donforweb during the last weekend of February 2008 at Como, Italy.

The brochure that all of us received explained:

The Somato Respiratory integration is an educational forum and a transformational healing workshop. The program explores each of the 12 Stages of Healing, their associated states of consciousness, and the exercises which assist in experiencing and nurturing these states, its goal is to develop lifetime skills, to promote wholeness, safety, strength, wisdom and love in relationship to the experience of one’s body, its vibration, structure and energy”.

During the whole seminar I felt grateful, energetic, joyful and peaceful and I learned every single minute. In the first place I love Italy. It is such a wonderful place to be. I went with a not too small propeller plane from Marseille to Malpensa, Milan and arrived excited and safe. I really did not know how to arrive in Como and I therefore asked some people and went by bus to the central station in the center of Milan. It took quit long (there are better and shorter connections) but I enjoyed it. I saw on the billboard that the train to Como would leave at 9.15 hours in the evening but I could not find the platform at the station. The only train that was scheduled to leave at this hour was the train to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In my perception it was impossible that this would be the train to Como but surprisingly it was the train that would stop in Como. It felt funny to be seated in the train to Amsterdam, to the country in which I was born, knowing that I had to leave this train at the very first stop. I liked it and I had nice talks with people that traveled to Amsterdam.

When I arrived at the Hotel in Como I felt hungry but the restaurant was closed. A wonderful person working at the bar of the hotel saw, without asking, that I wanted to eat something and I received some cheese, olives, nuts and some other nice snacks. I immediately felt that this person was willing to serve. He does not need any course in building up relationships with clients since he intuitively knows how to serve in the very best way. I felt extremely grateful.

The next day I went into a taxi-boot just for the pleasure to be on the lake. Como is a very pleasant, peaceful little town with nice shops, excellent coffees, a wonderful cathedral (duomo), 46876delicious food and I met only nice people. I always burn candles for beloved ones in churches. I suppose that many people do that. A woman was cleaning her windows on the first floor and a very well-dressed man passed by and at the same moment half of the bucket of water felt down. The man, soaking wet, looked up, his arms reaching to the sky and said: “Scuzi” and walked by. I saw this and could not stop laughing, which drew the attention of the man and the only thing he could do was also laugh.

Coming back in the hotel the course started and as I said in the beginning I felt great. The exercises were not easy, much better to mentally and intellectually understand than to practice and more often my mind was telling me that some of the exercises were (physical)too much. When this occurs I automatically know that I can and have to do more. When I less like to practice certain exercises I know that these are the ones that I need to practice most of all.

The first stages and exercises are associated with the lower layers of consciousness. These are the layers that re-act, respond immediately and are active when we are in danger. The first stages are associated with flee or fight reactions. It is the state in which we discriminate, distinguish between the one and the other, agree and disagree, right and wrong, the desire to have less of something and more of something else. I recognize these layers very well and by embracing them it gives more “space” for developing other skills and for growth to other levels. On the higher levels there is full connection and wholeness. We worked this weekend trough all the levels and coming back in France I recognized muscles that I never knew existed.

Going back to France I was seated in the same propeller plane and sitting next to a man that told me that he was very thirsty. I offered him my bottle of water but he thankfully refused to drink it. Before the take-off of the plane the pilot told us that we would have turbulence due to whether conditions. A woman sitting in front of me started to be even more worried than before. After the take–off, a man in front of the lady brought his seat into a sleeping position. The lady cried furious that this was extremely impolite and shacked the chair in front of her. Due to that the man stood up and screamed at her and both of them were not able to stop their argument. I always feel a bit uncomfortable when things happen like this, since I do not know where to go. There is no way out of a flying plane. I decided to stand up and to offer my seat to both the man and the woman. Both refused but stopped screaming. I decided to offer “my” seat to both of them since I did not feel “for” or “against” one of them. People like it when one chooses for the one or the other. If they are in pain (blaiming that this is caused by what somebody else did), they expect that others are “against” this person as well. Support to both is seen as a (judgmental) mistake. Being neutral is not always seen as a (welcome) possibility. I did not feel any reason for judgment and preference for one or the other, I followed my own need and desire to have more quietness and safety in the plane. When I came back to “my” seat my neighbor asked me what has happened and I explained that there were some discussions.

France should be for the French. When you walk through Marseille how many real French people do you see?” he asked me with a foreign accent. For some reason I did not answer the question. Just before arriving in Marseille, I recognized that I had seen the man next to me before and I asked “out of the blue”: “Are you in the Foreign Legion?”. “Yes” he said and I remembered that he was born in Russia. I once borrowed yoga-mats from the foreign legion for an International Seminar at Euromed.

Life is an illusion” came to my mind. A legionary from Russia is telling that France should be for the French to somebody from the Netherlands that lives and works in France. Are these reactions of the lower parts of the brain? I guess they are. The man was not able to observe that the lady who shacked his chair was extremely nervous. If he would have recognized this, he most properly would have had a different and more adequate reaction. The woman did not recognize her own fears and was (wanted to be?) triggered by the man and made him responsible for her anxiousness. Both were not able to observe what was really going on. The first response is one of “attack and defense” . The legionary, trained to be French, believes that this happens more frequently between foreigners. How often do we see our own brothers and sisters as foreigners? I ask myself.

A few weeks before I went to Como, the inauguration of an agricultural exhibition took place in France and Nicolas Sarkozy tried to reach for the hand of a visitor. Nicolas Sarkozy was rejected with a “Don’t touch me, you make me sick!” from the previous. I know from my own experience that rejection of something you offer can hurt. It seems that my needs for respect, love and recognition of my true intentions are not met. I always feel this in my heart. Important to recognize this and to have compassion with your own feelings and emotions and to take responsibility for them. (non-violent communication Marshall Rosenberg). If you refuse or deny to do this, your lower brain will take over (first stages) and will respond immediately. This happened to Nicolas Sarkozy as well. He responded by “Casse-toi, pauvre con!” (translated “F… off, you stupid bastard!” As a sad expression of unfulfilled needs. Both are French and not foreigners in the meaning of nationality and we can observe these reactions everywhere, in the first place in ourselves.

We can observe leaders and managers that are unable to work together, based on the idea that they have a different vision, point of view and ideas, instead of trying to reach a higher level of connection and respect. As a result “employees” have no clue how to react since they feel almost pressed to be “for the one and against the other and visa versa” even when they experience gratitude and respect for both.

Nicolas Sarkozy on the one hand and managers on the other hand, are “Fathers” of a nation and a company. They are chosen (and paid) to be the visionaries, the ones that are the examples of shared values and behavior, from a higher state of consciousness. They are chosen to be committed to all their “children” whether they like it or not. As a consequence of their position, they should show an attitude, behavior and wisdom that is far beyond personal interest (and money), political ideas and concepts only. We expect from a “father” recognition for all the “children”, for their needs, their well-being and their future.

We can help them doing that by sending our respect and being an example ourselves. “Children” are many times the best “fathers and teachers”. “Children do not like to chose between their father or mother”. They like connection for their own well-being.

I like to end my story with some nice phrases that I read in the 2008 Shift report “Changing the story of our future”, The Institute of Noetic Sciences.

Although people appear to be black, white, or brown; gay, straight, or bi, male or female; able or disabled – these are resonances that reflect a universe that appreciates and solicits difference. Sexuality, gender, class, and race are not deterministic categories; rather, they are fugues and etudes in a larger and more complex symphony.

Barbara A. Holmes

"There are no others"

Ramana Maharishi

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