THERAPY AS A DANCE, DANCE AS THERAPY,
A CROSS POLLINATION
By: Jessie Shaw and Bill Hedberg
This article is a lecture about heaven. It discusses the interconnection between the practices of dancing and Self Relations. Our desire is that it will pique the reader’s interest and curiosity enough to abandon lectures about heaven. May all its readers go off in pursuit of a body-based practice that will help them discover and deeply feel their own aliveness and bring their unique gifts into the world. The authors bring these thoughts to you based on their own experiences with dance and SR. Jessie Shaw is a practitioner of Chinese Medcine with a Master of Science degree in Acupuncture and Herbology, and has studied SR with Stephen Gilligan over the past 6 years. Although not a professional dancer, she has intensely pursued classical ballet as her physical practice for more than 10 years. Bill Hedberg has been a student of SR for the past seven years. He uses the principles of SR coupled with his own past experiences as a professional dancer (Elisa Monte/David Brown, Douglass Dunn, Tunisian National Ballet) to guide and inform his teaching and training of professional dancers at his studio, Gyrotonics on the Hudson in New York City.
“A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.” Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Cameron, 1992) As human beings we all carry with us wounding, strengths and longings that propel us through life, like a large wave under the board of a surfer. Sometimes we experience the peak of riding the wave, sometimes we experience near falls off the board, and sometimes we purely crash and burn fighting against the strong undertow that feels like we will be forever lost. This is called the cycle of life. It’s so easy to talk about as our “story,” but it can be both euphoric and agonizing in the flesh of daily living. SR is a practice that helps one navigate the rapids of life: the joys, the tragedies, and the sufferings that life entails. It is a process of transformation that entails the full owning and full being of all that one is in a fashion that is open and all inclusive, on a second-to-second basis. This article doesn’t spell out the principles of SR. Stephen Gilligan (1997) has already done so in The Courage to Love . We use his principles as the underlying epistemology for this article, like an alphabet that can be strung into many different sentences, phrases, paragraphs and stories. Taken in this light, the principles and practice of SR, while originally proposed within a psychotherapeutic context, can be extended across many contexts that comprise the state of human living. One such context is the world of classical and contemporary modern dance. Dancing is a vivid metaphor for the principles of applying SR because it is by nature a combination of the body, the mind, and an audience. Dance is a discipline, a practice and a way of life, that when done well, epitomizes the essence of SR. For to dance well, one must develop the ability to hold multiple awarenesses at the same time: somatic self (body), cognitive self (mind) and the field (audience). It is the kind of dancing we experience at a phenomenal performance when an artist captivates us through her ability to express a deep emotion with the simple turn of a wrist, or the mere showing of her back. Realizing the SR principle of mind-body unity, shown in the cognitive self and the somatic self integrating into a generative relational self, is one of the differences that makes a difference in achieving human excellence in any field of human endeavor, whether it be dance, art, choreography, music composition, athletics, theatre or scientific thought. It seems to us that no matter the field, excellence cannot be achieved either from a purely cognitive or somatic position. Only when the two are connected and in communion do great performances or works of art occur. This is why Gilligan’s (1997) references to great individuals in a variety of fields seem so relevant: Einstein’s descriptions of where his ideas came from; Michael Jordan’s “zone;” Mozart’s perfect musical offerings. Inspiration and genius are clearly at work, but these giants also achieve a connection between body, mind and the collective unconscious that takes their endeavors to a level higher than what seems humanly possible. This article seeks to provide the reader with a deeper understanding of the SR principles through the metaphor of dance and the actual practice of dancing. It also examines how the use of SR in performance based dancing (whether it be classical ballet, modern, or jazz), can take us beyond “good dancing” to the realm of extraordinary peak experiences into the world of “magic performances.” Thus, the first step in the practice of SR might be considered “remedial” (training, taking class), with the next being “generative” — applications that lead to advanced creativity and “in the zone” experiences. As an old Zen teacher remarked, “Enlightenment is an accident, but a good practice makes you accident prone.” Toward this enlightened end, the article discusses the principles of SR and their relation to dance. Specifically, it addresses: the formation of the relational self and its importance to dance and expressive movement; the inherent difficulties in feeling and connecting with the somatic intelligence of the body; a practice the dancer or artist can use to help build connection and relationship between the cognitive and somatic selves; a discussion of pain and physical injury, and how dancers’ approach to healing these traumas is analogous to the healing of emotional pain and suffering as discussed in SR; health and healing as an ongoing process which dance and physical practices greatly facilitate; the addiction inherent in “high states” of which dance is one; and finally, a discussion of how dance or other body-based practices can facilitate heightened awareness and spiritual consciousness.
Act I, Scene I: There Are Two of Us
“What I am actually saying is that we need to be willing to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that guidance directly and fearlessly.” Shakti Gawain (Cameron, 1992) We have observed in our experience in the field of professional dancing that some dancers progress quickly, while others who train as hard or harder, make little or no progress. We believe that the more successful dancers are able to better meet the considerable challenge of connecting their somatic and cognitive selves, and to feel and achieve the middle ground of the “relational self.” (Gilligan, 1997) In the dance world, we believe the relational self corresponds to what is referred to as one’s “performance presence,” i.e., a heightened state of awareness where one is able to track numerous internal and external inputs (music, other dancers, audience response, breathing, choreography, story line, images), while also listening to and sponsoring the creative impulses that arise from the somatic being (discovered emotions, spontaneous musical phrasing, unpracticed nuances in the shape and expression of the body itself). The underlying concept of the relational self or of having performance presence is that there are two of us occupying the space of our being: (1) a cognitive self that is primarily the verbal, visual mind, and; (2) a somatic self that can be experienced primarily through kinesthetic sensations (emotional and physiological) of our body. The intelligence of the somatic self is perhaps the most difficult to understand, and can perhaps best be explained through an example. When one slips on a set of stairs, the hand will automatically grasp out for the railing. The question might be, “who saved you?” This reaction is not the working of the cognitive mind, but is the physical intelligence of the somatic self at work. It automatically, without the intervention or direction of our mind, grasps firmly to protect our life. In dance, it appears that the somatic self is up to something more than “protecting.” It is longing for freedom, spontaneity, nonverbal expression, and connection. Thus, the somatic self comes to life in dance by guiding the positioning, spacing and angling of the body, the timing of the movement, breath, and musculature contraction and release all synthesized into a pure celebration of movement. The interacting of these two selves in dancing can perhaps be exemplified by William James’ metaphor of the horse and rider. (James, 1950) Taken first from the traditional perspective of mind over body, one’s conscious mind or cognitive self might be seen as the rider giving instructions to the somatic self, the horse. The cognitive self, using visual and auditory symbolic representations, instructs the somatic self of where to go next, and the position or shape of the body to achieve. The somatic self interprets these instructions through having rehearsed the sequences and positions, and understands in its non-verbal fashion, what is expected. From an Neuro-Linguistic Programming modeling perspective, one might hypothesize that simply using the “natural,” most eloquent images or auditory cues to inform the body could be enough to create art, and that sense of grace that one sees in good dancers. However, this is not the case because artistic, expressive dance does not come from a mind over body perspective. All that the use of this model ensures from a dance training perspective is that the dancer will move across the stage at the right time using the right positions. It does not guarantee or predispose the dancer toward an artistic, graceful performance that connects with the audience. And it does not address two equally disturbing dance states where the relational self is not present: dancing that is stiff and mechanical (cognitive dominance) or dance that is overly emotional and self-indulgent (somatic dominance). (Gilligan, 1997) For artistry to occur, the artist must create the experience of a relational self, where mind and body interact, work together, and are equally guided by each other. This relational self does not occur until the cognitive self surrenders into a relationship with the somatic self in such a way that both are equally present at the same time. Returning to the horse and rider metaphor, one must take into account the nature of the relationship between horse and rider. In great myths of heroes and their trusted steed, such as The Lone Ranger and Silver, or Xena, Warrior Princess and her beautiful stallion, the two go in search of adventure with a joined intention and responsibility. The two work as a team, each with his or her individual strengths and intelligence. The rider treats the horse as an equal and allows the horse to take initiative, and at times lead him. It is not a dominant or abusive relationship; but rather one of love and respect. The rider learns to listen to and heed the horse’s intuitions. The horse and rider become one, and act with a shared intelligence. This is the state of being that the true artist strives to achieve, and it is an apt metaphor for the relational self emphasized in the SR model. It is more than an advocacy for self love. It requires that the dancer have an inherent curiosity, respect and appreciation for this ultimate intelligence that resides within his or her body, and the discipline to undergo the training that helps cultivate a loving relationship with it. This can be a challenge in many ways. Not only does it require an awareness that this other intelligence exists; it also requires a great deal of commitment and trust to develop the connection.
Act I, Scene II: Lose Your Mind, Come to Your Senses
“No longer conscious of my movement, I discovered a new unity with nature. “I had found a new source of power and beauty, a source I never knew existed.” Roger Bannister, on breaking the four-minute mile (Cameron, 1992) To gain a felt sense awareness of somatic intelligence one must first be willing to feel. It is only through the conscious mind’s felt sense of the somatic self that the harmonized intelligence of both systems can be generated. In actuality, few of us orient to the feelings of the somatic self willingly. After all, the somatic self is typically numbed, abused and ignored in our cultural and familial histories. We typically do not listen to the calling and feelings of our somatic self until it is “leaking” so badly that we can no longer ignore it, e.g., through a symptom such as depression or anxiety. SR emphasizes this “problem” as a solution, that “something is waking up” within the person (Gilligan, 1997). Our typical reaction to the awakening of the somatic self is to try to ignore or numb it further. We rarely welcome or bless the difficult and uncomfortable feelings that arise within our beings. Often, it is only when we can no longer turn away from the somatic self that we finally open to deeply connecting with it. At such times, hopefully, a person can find a safe place, e.g., therapy, body work or a body-based practice, to learn to associate rather than dissociate from the somatic self. Learning to “lose the mind” of cognitive control and trust the somatic self is especially crucial for dancers, who rely on it for their art. Most dancers practice and develop a basic level of connecting their somatic and cognitive selves because of the pressures of the performance environment. They train to not be disturbed by negative emotions that might overwhelm them in a performance, such as anxiety, fear and memory blocks. Because such states can throw a dancer right out of his or her body with disastrous results in the midst of a performance, practicing repetition in the studio becomes a crucial part of training both to build endurance and to generate pure muscle memory. If the mind totally blanks during a performance, the only hope is that enough time has been spent in the studio in connection with the somatic self. Because the somatic self has its own unique intelligence it can remember how to keep going until the cognitive self can re-engage. It can pull a dancer through those rough moments. This is one type of a “lose your mind” state that confronts most dancers, and that they all address out of pure need. However, there is another type of “lose your mind” experience that is more generative in nature. It is a learned state of “being present” in the studio and on stage where the deep self or soul can be touched and expressed through the movement. This is the aspect of the art of dance that is the ultimate challenge. It is an exploration through the choreography and movement whereby the somatic behavior or positions act as a Rolodex through different selves. It is the idea of exploring oneself through the choreography, and becoming aware of the feeling tone that reveals a moment of a self with each movement, gesture or body posture. Some of the selves revealed will be “neglected selves” (Gilligan, 1997), or parts of the self that the dancer feels uncomfortable feeling. Or it could be a self or feeling tone locked in the past that the dancer especially likes to feel, despite its lack of maturity, e.g., a young self that loves being reassured and praised, or an indignant self that would like to act out in rehearsal when things are not going well. The generative artist is one who can feel and express all of these different selves and not lose him or herself in the experience. It is the concept of “not too tight, not too loose” (Gilligan, 1997), the capability to hold the present self and the neglected at the same time. One way of thinking about this practice that the artist follows in order to build this capability is shown in Figure 1. The stages of the practice are: (1) fully feeling the neglected self; (2) adding a mature presence and understanding to know the neglected self is not “all” of them but a “part” of them; (3) holding both of these felt senses at the same time to facilitate; (4) bringing the neglected self into the “land of the living” in a sponsored way so that its presence can be integrated and transformed. (Figure 1.) The failure to integrate the energies of the somatic self can be quite frustrating. In the world of dance, this corresponds to times when the performer falls too deeply into their emotionality on stage, so that the audience feels a sense of over indulgence that causes them to disconnect from the performer. Even though the performer may feel that he is expressing his deepest truth or soul, the audience is not able to witness the event. The only way a performer can get beyond this hurdle is to connect the somatic feeling with a cognitive mature presence so that both may be present at the same time and expressed through a soulful, caring touching of the somatic tender soft spot. When this somatic self is sponsored and connected with a mature presence, it can be felt in the world and the audience is able to empathize and co-feel the emotion being expressed. Without the soundness of this type of cognitive-somatic connection, the audience may not be able to empathize with the emotion being expressed and may even feel like they are being imposed upon or violated. This will usually cause them to disconnect from the dancer and from the intention of the performance itself. Artists talk about the experience of a relational self in different ways. They may describe having a really juicy part or character to portray. Or they may describe a state wherein there is an experience of release in the body, such that movement takes on an unselfconscious grace where the body, core and limbs, integrate and express themselves in an effortless, united way. The artist who has gained experience in connecting and holding these two presences may take the experience a step further by asking, “Is this the appropriate self to touch at this point in the choreography? Is it the part of myself that best expresses the emotion or story I want to tell at this point in the dance?” This is where the art of dance and the creative process begins to reveal itself for both the artist and audience alike. It is the generative application of the practice of SR.
Act I, Scene III: The Pain of Pain
“Our suffering is us, and we need to treat it with kindness and nonviolence. We need to embrace our fear, hatred, anguish, and anger. ”˜My dear suffering, I know you are there. I am here for you, and I will take care of you.” Thich Nhat Hanh (Thich Nhat Hanh, 1998) Another reality of being a dancer relevant to SR work is physical pain. Pain and injury are daily realities of the professional dancer. A dancer tweaks muscles, compresses joints, puts parts of the body into spasm, and often deals with chronic exhaustion and fatigue. When a dancer is on tour and doesn’t have an understudy, there is no choice but to perform. Thus, the dancer must learn how to delve into the proper naming of the message of pain, and learn how to re-open condensed tissue. Many names exist for a negative body reaction to pain or injury. In SR, it might be called “neuromuscular lock” (Gilligan, 1997); acupuncture describes it as “blocked energy;” and in dance, it is referred to as a muscle in spasm. Whatever it is called, it represents the instinctual response of the somatic self to “condense and close” to pain resulting from some type of trauma. In professional dancing, this blockage has to be re-opened both for the safety of the body and for graceful expression. To have blockage in one area will restrict movement throughout a far larger area and cause only greater injury. Thus, a dancer does a great deal of work to place cognitive awareness in damaged or pained tissue, e.g., by extending mindfulness inside an aching knee. The dancer is in essence blessing the wound or traumatized area with human presence in order to open it up to the field of life around it one’s dance partner, gravity, weight, musicality, breath so that it can begin to heal. This approach to re-open and heal dance injuries correlates with the aspect of SR that encourages actively touching and connecting with emotionally painful areas. SR advocates that we be with our injured emotional areas in a healing way so that they too can open back to the field of life, back to weight, gravity, relationship and all the metaphoric relational components that one experiences in the “dance of life.” It is what Self Relations refers to as “effective suffering” (Gilligan, 1997). The effectiveness of this approach in dealing with physical pain and dance injuries seems to validate further its application in the psycho therapeutic context. For the dancer, the most difficult aspect of re-opening a physical injury is to trust that it is ok to feel into the pain, or to go into the pain of movement when a joint is traumatized. Again, the dancer must understand that the message of the pain is not life threatening or career ending, but is purely the message of “ouch.” They must have faith in their ability to heal, and in their power to regenerate, in order to work out the sprain in an ankle or to continue to flex and extend spinal musculature when it is in spasm, massaging it out through movement. Many of the healing practices used by dancers stimulate the life force in the body, to re-engage it to the flow of life. For example, the practice of acupuncture doesn’t overtly take pain away: When you poke a muscle with a needle it stimulates or calls life (qi) to flow through it. The flow of that life energy is what sweeps away the blockage, and consequently the pain. Most dancers prefer not to follow the traditional Western medical model of treating the symptom with pain killers, because such drugs do not address the larger issue of re-engaging the injured area with the rest of the life force moving through the body. And unless the blockage is re-opened to the flow of life, it will not heal, putting the dancer at greater risk of an even more severe injury. It seems that the psychotherapist’s role is in some cases similar to that of a skilled massage therapist, acupuncturist or dance coach. It is first and foremost to provide the message that this pain is not special pain. It is an ordinary pain of life, not to be taken too personally. And it is pain that is safe to relax into it. The therapist’s role is also to help the client re-engage the injury with the flow of life. Emotionally, we as a species tend to withdraw from pain, cut it off and avoid all stimuli that would activate the pain, thereby preventing it from being connected to the flow of life. Thus, when a client withdraws from emotional pain, the therapist guides him or her into the experience and connects it back with the flow of life. It is the natural healing process by which the body and spirit can begin their natural course to regenerate and heal. In both dance and psychotherapy, the natural ingredient that activates the healing process is human awareness of the felt experience of the pain.
Act II, Scene I: Healing is a Process, Not a Finite State
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” C.G. Jung (Cameron, 1992) We all long for our own uniqueness and gifts to be seen by others. It seems an inherent part of the human psyche that is played out in many of our myths and stories, from Cinderella to Luke Skywalker. Dancers are a rare breed in that they often get to fully experience and exhibit their own uniqueness through their chosen art form. Dancing gives them a place in their lives to feel the variety of their different selves, to learn to sponsor them with their cognitive presence, and to have them witnessed and seen by the world. Thus, dance provides many opportunities for emotional healing and growth. Of course, “healing” comes in many forms. Clients visiting psychotherapists may want to “get rid of something bad,” or “make this bad feeling go away,” or “help me kill ”˜it’ off.” In contrast, the healing we are referring to is based on the SR sponsorship principle of integrating a neglected self back into our core being. (Gilligan, 1997) It is like the ancient practice of Shamanism where through the ritual of soul retrieval, the Shaman journeys forth into the three worlds and uses his aides to help retrieve the parts of the soul that were lost through trauma, illness or some other type of deep wounding. He brings them back to the light of the upper world where they can be integrated back into the whole of the person (Matthews, 1995). Dancing can provide opportunities for this type of healing in various ways. For example, a dancer is on occasion asked to portray an element of him or herself which he or she would prefer to neglect. This neglected self can thus be given some personal air time in rehearsal and in performance, where its truth can be seen and blessed. This in turn may allow the complementary personalities of the dancer more time to come through in daily life. The same is true of using SR in psychotherapy. The role of the therapist is to help the client become aware of the hidden character or feelings that are a part of their being. The therapist also helps to give these neglected “selves” airtime where they can be brought out into the world, to be seen, heard and blessed so that the client can begin to sponsor these parts of their being, both in performance and in real life. Another way that the practice of dance facilitates healing is through its inherent physicality. The whole process of dance can bring health and vitality, a kind of somatic well being, that helps it be easier to bear the wounded selves in one’s being. If you can feel your own vitality, you will be more able to feel and heal your wounds. In the words of Buddha, “To keep the body in good health is a duty ”¦ Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”
Act II, Scene II: Ineffective Suffering and Bad Trips
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” AnaÃ”s Nin (Cameron, 1992) Dancing’s extraordinary potential for healing, is not always realized. It is our experience that dancers, in general, have a greater felt-sense awareness of their own physical and emotional suffering, primarily because they are required to spend so much time in their bodies. They are trained in acting and psychological techniques to access and isolate core parts of themselves specifically the animal power of their raw somatic self, which is often accompanied by the sides of themselves that yearn to be seen as special. It can become terribly addictive to source one’s most powerful selves, in the service of special states of consciousness. These states involve high levels of arousal and excitement, which present the problem of how to “come down” into calmness. To continue obtaining these “high” states, some dancers will do anything to quiet and escape the host of neglected selves that are concomitantly accessed. Cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine abuse abound. Anorexia is common. Other substance abuse occurs, as well as a number of other evasive techniques (not unknown to the layman), such as dissociation and trance states. The only path out of these types of dissociate behaviors is through the hard core realization that we can never “rid ourselves” of these bad or uncomfortable feelings, and parts of ourselves that arise. We can only, in an ongoing fashion, sponsor and integrate them. (See Figure 1.) It is a daily practice of feeling the feelings, connecting them with our mature presence and expressing them in the world. As Gilligan (1977) notes, the expression may initially be quite “fressen,” but in continuing the practice and integration these energies mature and become more “essen” in nature. (Gilligan, 1997) Professional dancers are given more overt opportunities to practice this process of connecting with their neglected selves. Unfortunately, due to the experiential demands and traditions of their profession, many subsequently react with a more pronounced aversion to the feelings that arise in their personal lives and attempt to control and ignore these feelings through addictions and forms of substance abuse.
Act III, Scene I: Cultivating “Specialness”
“Here in this body are the sacred rivers: here are the sun and moon as well as all the pilgrimage places ”¦ I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body.” Saraha (Cameron, 1992) Little worth is placed in our society on exploring and cultivating one’s soul, uniqueness or individual gifts. In fact, many distractions and forces of alienation are in place to keep us from noticing our internal being and its potential. Our societal pace is so fast and the economic pressures so great that we often fear to feel the natural rhythms of our somatic self. This sets up a split between the inner and outer realities, and between the cognitive and somatic selves, such that an inner connection to the somatic self can be taken too far, to the point of self-absorption and self-indulgence. There is the risk of connecting to the somatic self without being grounded enough in the rational world forgetting to take care of worldly needs like having sufficient income, caring for one’s family, and completing mundane tasks like grocery shopping and seeing the dentist. Also, dancing can be exploited as a means to an end: to achieve fame, fortune, or love. These are serious considerations. A balance or middle path is very important. But in its purest form, the exploration and felt sense seeking of our unique gifts is both the means and the end, and potentially the fulfillment of our deepest longing. It is by experiencing ourselves that we can come to know others. And it is by feeling our own somatic aliveness, that we are also able to feel it in others. In the words of Lao-Tzu: “Knowing others is wisdom; Knowing the self is enlightenment.” (Feng, 1972) Discussing dance as a personal practice to explore and develop a richer connection with one’s self is not to elevate it to some kind of spiritual panacea. Nor is it to suggest that dance is “the way” to achieve such a connection. It is just one of many body centered practices that can provide a path to take one closer to a more sacred experience of being. Martha Graham, despite her strong bias for dance as the pathway, beautifully summarizes the importance of the pursuit: “There is a vitality, a life-force, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is; Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly of the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine, dissatisfaction, A blessed unrest that keeps us marching
And makes us more alive than the others.”
Martha Graham (www.cybernation.com, 2001) Why does establishing a connection with the somatic self matter? Because it is the part of us that is truly alive. This consciousness in our body, is literally our life force, our qi. It is the force that moves through our physical body — our physical awareness, our physical reality. It has a presence and awareness different from the cognitive self. It is the part of us which sees and feels the beauty inside the rose, its life force, its redness. It senses the aliveness in a cheetah running at incredibly speeds. It feels the beauty of a sunset. SR emphasizes the felt sense experience of one’s own unique life force, as well as the felt sense of the life force in all other beings and objects, such as the life force running through a rose (Gilligan, 1997). Achieving this felt sense experience, feeling deeper and deeper into the somatic energy, is to commune with something spiritual. It’s why making love, intense athletics, martial arts, dancing and meditation can be such rich, fulfilling experiences. They are a communion with the life force running through us. The purpose of establishing a body-based practice is to put in place a daily ritual that enables us to connect with this aliveness in our beings. It is our somatic self that touches and connects with the energy of the world around us. It is through this way of being that we can begin to explore the depths of our longing, to discover the riches and special uniqueness we hold, and to bring these gifts into the world. Through this way of being we connect something larger than ourselves the whole of life, the energy of the universe, the collective unconscious. Getting back into our bodies is the gateway. Without having a body-based connection — an ongoing communion with the life force running through us — life quickly becomes empty and meaningless. The step toward establishing a body-based practice may seem small but it is filled with the wonder of possibility. As Murray Louis (Louis, 1980) expresses it: “When I reach too deeply, I can feel him. I can feel his presence. I can feel him reaching out, and I close my eyes and let him enter me. I dare not look. I am a fire, a flame, he passes through. I hear him round the bend. I can breathe again. I am flesh again. I open my eyes to see where he has been, to see what he has touched. What if some day I should innocently open the wrong door and stand face to face with him? Would I be consumed? Would I be terrified of whom I might see? Is this why I close my eyes and open my senses when he appears? When he possesses me, whose eyes do I use? I know it is his handiwork when I cannot explain what I have done. Does this vague visage know me any better than I know him? Who would recognize their own soul if they should meet it?” (pp. 80-81)
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