Sunday, October 7, 2018


Interesting take on the false god of safety, which is used to metaphorically club people in "developed" economies into submission and compliance - and which can and is also used in a mental health context to drive what I cannot tolerate in you underground.

Of course the supposedly "progressive" and "radical" "perspectives" (note the scorn in my quotation marks) of this blog simply substitute for the false god of safety the false god of "the person" of "personal existence." The person is seen as a supremely valuable thing, and as possessing some fundamental reality. I am more drawn to the experience of the transcience of the person, and the movement from person to presence as the only pathway to unlimited redemption and liberation from suffering. "Freedom is never of the person, but from the person." (Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That)
So I don't agree with the Uni speak about power, power relationships and all that fabricated Focault mind stuff, but I do think the description of the dynamic played out in mental health settings is quite accurate and useful:

"A Deeper Look at 'Safety'

When I was a patient in the mental health system, I heard the language of safety a lot! Was I safe, was I going to be safe, would I contract for safety, etc. etc...? Through these questions, safety came to mean that I was simply agreeing not to do anything to hurt myself or someone else.
But what did that leave me with?

Reflection questions

•What has it meant to you when others have asked if you’re 'safe'?
•When you’ve asked others if they’re safe?

Frankly, the more safety questions I got, the less I felt reliant on my own abilities to take care of myself. So instead of feeling safe in the world, I felt like a time bomb that could go off at any time.
It also left my clinical relationships with a huge power discrepancy: If I told the truth -- "I feel like hurting myself" -- the practitioner would feel obliged to take precautions. Perhaps they were legitimately concerned I would follow through. Or, maybe they acted more from a need to protect their job, their license or their organization. Either way, once the magic words got spoken, they mostly had the power and I mostly didn't.

Option two was to lie. If I denied my true experience, I could keep my power. But denying my reality - and keeping secrets in important relationships - also have their costs.
This was abundantly true for me. I felt miserably alone at the most vulnerable times of my life. I came away feeling like there was no one on the planet who I could really trust. I was out of my league and I knew it. I desperately wanted human support and counsel. I desperately wanted to get to the root of my true feelings and to be able to uncover any options I had. Yet, here I was trying to make a good decision - perhaps the most important decision of my life - without knowing a single soul I could trust to be truly honest with.

In retrospect, I don't think there is much that is LESS SAFE for me as a human being in that frame of mind. In fact, I can only think of one thing that's less safe from my perspective:
EVEN MORE UNSAFE = to feel coerced or pressured by others who don't understand my unbearable suffering into making a bad decision makes it even worse.
Unfortunately, that was often where I found myself in times like these, given the mainstream practice of reporting, detaining and drugging those of us who acknowledge the depth of our distress and despair.

Re-Thinking Safety

The painful contradictions noted above have led to a lot of reflecting on what safety actually means to me. Here are two bottom lines I've come to:

1.Real safety doesn’t mean talking to someone with a reporting obligation.
2.Real safety doesn't mean making a safety contracts or promises to stay out of harms way.

Reflection questions

•What does real safety mean to you?
•What makes you feel safe (or safer)?

Real safety - for me - is about creating culturally respectful, mutually responsible, trusting, trustworthy relationships. It happens in relationships where we don’t judge or make assumptions about each other. It happens when someone trusts and believes in me even when they’re uncomfortable. It happens when I'm free to share my deepest truth and you take time to reflect on what I've said. You make the effort and sincerely try to get to the heart and soul of what I'm attempting to get across to you.

When you make that kind of effort and actually 'get' me, everything starts to change. You've proven to me that you can put your needs aside long enough to hear me out when it really matters. So I begin to feel ok about letting you into my world and loosening my grip on the urgency of now.

You've also proven to me that you understand the territory. You've treated me like I have value and like my experiences do too. So I begin to get interested in what you think and might possibly know. I get curious about what I might find out if I stick with you. I feel bouyed up enough to risk the uncertain and the unknown. After all, you're a pleasant companion and the spent time with you feels bearable. That alone gives me hope that there might be something on the other side to make the journey worth hanging in for.

This buys us time. The time we need to take risks, learn from them, explore new possibilities, and learn some more. All the while behind the scenes, subtly, incrementally, without me knowing it, a revolutionary change in my assumptions is taking place. The way I think about how this world and how it all operates (me, others, the planet) will never be the same.

Reflection questions

•What happens when you are with someone you trust and feel safe with?
•How does actually feeling safe change things? (Can you do things when you feel safe that you can't do when you don't?)
•How does being with someone you feel safe with change things? (Have you ever noticed yourself being able to do something with a person you trust that you couldn't do without them...?)

This is what we call building relational safety. As you can see, it is very different from the liability management practices that are oriented toward legal safety. It requires both of us to take risks and be vulnerable, instead of just one of us unilaterally protecting our interests. This is what we call shared risk.

How safe the relationship is for both of us depends on... both of us. It only works if both of us are willing to learn to share our power and take responsibility to do our part. This is what we call mutual responsibility.

Relational safety, shared risk and mutual responsibility are foundation principles in creating relationships that work for both people. You will learn a lot about them - and practice them a lot - in this kind of peer support.

Reflection questions

•What happens to 'safety' for you if...
•I am continually assessing you for 'risk'...?
•I can unilaterally decide to 'keep you safe'...?
•I expect you to do all the risking...?
•I am the authority on what risks you can take...?

Practicing Relational Safety

It's time to put the rubber to the road and practice creating this new kind of safety in our relationships with each other. Here are some strategies to get us started:

1. Initiate proactive conversations

Whenever possible, it's best to practice these principles proactively (by thinking ahead) rather than reactively (oops...). The idea of proactive conversations is to get our concerns on the table early on, before either of us is in discomfort or crisis. That gives us the space to look at ourselves from a comfortable distance. Then we can reflect honestly together about:

1.The kinds of stuff that often comes up for us (in relationships or in our lives); and
2.What we'd like to do differently this time.

For example, if wanting to die is a common issue for either of us, we can talk about it ahead of time.

•We can explore what will help the relationship feel safe for both of us if those kinds of feelings come up again.
•We can both acknowledge (honestly, out loud) the extent of our “bottom lines.”
•We talk about how we each are likely to react when we feel untrusting or disconnected.
•We can figure out together what we will do, should we get to that edge.

By proactively exploring potentially sensitive issues like these, we pave the way for negotiating our relationship when future challenges arise...."

Extracted from

Green healing

If you are an architect tasked with designing from scratch, or renovating a hospital, or if you sit on a hospital board and have a say in the above, could you please build it with lots of natural light and plentiful green spaces so that every patient and stressed staff member can at least be looking at greenery during the day, and possibly sit or walk or lie amongst it as well.


With diminished demand all over the state, drug manufacturers and dealers are doing it hard. As a patriotic Australian you can do your bit to support these hard working members of our community, who risk police persecution and chemical intoxication to ensure we have recreational drug security no matter the political climate. By buying only local and fair trade drugs, you are ensuring that the producers get more of your money, and also contributing to a greener planet, by reducing carbon miles.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Six degrees of separation Part V: creeping acceptance and surrender

Like most people going through a significant transition, experience is slowly teaching me, in little incremental steps, that life goes on.

Back on February 4, the day my wife phoned me and told me she wanted to come back to the house she had left, to be with our boys, and that I must vacate the house, a good friend had said to me (earlier) on that day

a) get your shit together
b) I am not a victim...I co created this situation over many years with my selfishness and willfullness and taking things and people for granted.

That was very important to hear, and remains a central part of my healing two months later

Lying here in a tepid bath of pain
trying to get that there's no one to blame

I am afraid
that the silence will
swallow me

O son of Chavah and Adam
you do not need to be saved from the silence
Silence will save you

I and aloneness have been spending some quality time together.

Ah my bride Presence
how beautiful your veils:


thank you
for the way
they part to reveal your
ever shifting beauty

Into a mikvah of pain
I ascend
perhaps to be birthed
into love without end

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Six degrees of Separation - Part IV: the slow death of the ego

My ex wife said she was coming around to take our son to school, so I put on my nicest clothes, wanting to make a favourable impression and perhaps arouse some old longing in her. But in the end she did not come.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

For men who believe they have been "replaced": Helpful resources

Last night (Feb 24th 2018) I went to a men's yoga group in Botany, and shared about my wife having initiated a separation two months ago, having a relationship with another man, living with not knowing and uncertainty, and the traumatic fallout from all of that. It turned out that at least a third of the men there had been through similar or parallel experiences - at least as far as separation goes, and one also the state of not knowing.

The amount of environmental support available makes a huge difference to our ability to function, be happy and create wellbeing. This was graphically illustrated when we did a tree pose. We were arranged in a circle, and first we each did the tree pose individually. I did not even try and lift my supporting leg of the mat, but left it with toes on the ground and heel pushed in aginst the ankle of the load-bearing leg, believing I did not have the strength or balance to stand unaided on one leg. I tyhink the majority of men there did lift the supporting leg completely off the ground.

Afterwards the facilitator, Jeff Miller, invited us to stand closer, and extend our hands so that we were all pressing against the hand of the person to our left and right. Now, with this environmental support to lean on, I was able to easily do a full tree pose with confidence and a sense of possibility. It was a wonderful illustration of how mutual support and interdependence can transform our experience of everything.


Useful Eckhart Tolle talk on Ego relationships vs real love


For those men  who decide to continue their marriage after an affair: some resources (not my own experience, the experience of others)

"For my own part, just as she needed to let go of the affair, so too did I. I needed to stop talking about it, stop voicing every thought, stop throwing it in her face. She isn’t sleeping with, pining for, secretly meeting with anyone now, so what am I angry about? My ego is bruised, my trust has been damaged, my belief in my marriage has been shaken. It’s legitimate anger. But it’s anger based on past events. She is in the marriage now. She is reaching out to me. She wants to be with me. I still need to accept that completely, but I’ve found the less I dwell on this, the better I feel.
It was also helpful to accept that I can’t depend on her for my happiness. I need to secure that for myself. It’s not a bad result to all of this. I am less beholden to her and I think she appreciates me more for it.
One important aspect to keep in mind (and it helps the betrayed understand the mindset of the betrayer during the affair) is that one can become addicted to the pain of betrayal. Wallowing, anger, ruminating are all bad habits I’ve fallen into. I’m used to waking up and thinking about them. I’m used to passing by places they met and getting mad about it. It becomes Pavlovian after a while. I found I needed to have those negative feelings because I became accustomed to having them. They became a sort of crutch for me. Without them, without being the betrayed husband, who was I? I imagine my wife felt a similar need. She developed a bad habit of needing to hear from him, to see him, to read his emails, and when she tried to break that habit, it was too difficult.
I’ve really tried hard to break my own habits, to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. And one really important lesson I’ve learned is that tomorrow really is another day. I get the one day at a time mantra.
We will never be as naively trusting as we once were, but we will never be as dependent either. I think that independence allows one to take a chance on love once more."

Of limited use, delineates the problem from the point of view of the person - but I find more useful approaches which point out that the person itself is the ultimate 'problem', and that only moving towards Presence can return us to our completeness. Such as the Eckhart Tolle talk above. He points out that words like "betrayal", and "abandonment" are stories that lock us into victimhood and powerlessness.

Rethinking infidelity ... a talk for anyone who has ever loved | Esther Perel