Come to the edge

During a counselling session, my client and I had the unfortunate experience of a pigeon dropping down my chimney.  The noise was sufficient for us to assume it was mischief of rats.  As we sat opposite each other in our disbelief and horror, we also found the humour in our shared experience. 

I coaxed the pigeon out.  I cleared the exit, talked to it, left a trail of biscuit crumbs, and finally cut the escape hole bigger for it to find its own flight to freedom.  Over many, too many days, pigeon and I built up a relationship.  I talked gently to it, encouraging it to find its way to the hole and take flight.  It was important to achieve a good outcome for both pigeon and I.    

This story is relevant to share as through its arrival, I identified the metaphor in this visit.  Pigeons are symbolic of flight, fertility, and freedom.  In my own life I had already began to feel the need to move and grow some more.   I received words of encouragement and coaxing yet was unable to respond with sufficient resourcefulness to find “flight.”  The “hole” created for my own freedom had grown organically and was sufficient for me to pass gracefully through it.  For a time, I remained happy maintaining  the status quo; resting for a while whilst I figured out my best move.  

I am reminded by the poem by Christopher Logue:

A poem about taking a leap and having faith that the landing will be a safe one.  A leap of faith is far from a spontaneous reaction.  Dithering and hesitation. Fear and edging forward, peering over the precipice, and retreating back.  Backwards and forwards, forwards and back.   The dark murky waters of uncertainty.  A pool full of our own pressure to arrive at a decision and a need to push forward into flight.  Even a considered leap has some regret later.   Or to reject the entire flight and stay stuck in the status quo, again with much remorse.    

Pay attention to this reflexive process.  Reflexivity is achieved through a systematic method of heuristics (Moustakas, 2001:309).  Heuristics involved a search of self, flowing out of inner awareness. The primary task is to recognise and become aware of whatever exists in the consciousness and unconscious until an essential insight is achieved.  What is this leap all about?

The immersion gives energy to this question, to explore every possibility and scenario until all ideas surface. The leap occupies the mind; to consciously and unconsciously prepare oneself to undertake the task. It takes time and is not the spontaneous “he pushed, and they flew” scenario.  Overwhelm will settle to allow growth to take place from this inner unspoken dimension (Moustakas, 1990:28), until one becomes open and receptive to any unspoken knowledge that surfaces. Incubation and immersion break through to conscious awareness (Moustakas, 1990:29) with new insights.  And this illumination is the moment where clarity and enlightenment are attained and themes, qualities and components emerge into the conscious. 

Explication required an effort to understand what had awakened.  This was achieved through focussing and indwelling with concentrated attention to discover the texture of the phenomenon (Moustakas, 1990:31).  Once one becomes familiar with this data, creative synthesis made sense of it as a whole to be able to provide a decision forward, a solution. Creative synthesis required the tacit dimension of self-searching and intuition, arising from a period of solitude, focussing or meditation (Moustakas, 1990:32).  

Maintain your status quo, there is no need to push forward. 

What would be a leap for you? What process do you work through?

Do you make rash, quick decisions that you may regret?

Do you take time to decide and regret the missed opportunity? 

What symbols arrive in your life that if attention were given to them, could be therapeutic?  To explore symbols, look at Jung, or delve into the amazing Book of Symbols (Taschen).

And for those of you who like fortune cards, choose two of wands, the magician, and the tower.

Counselling is a similar process to Moustakas’ heuristics; a way of reaching the deep through a dialogic and safe relationship; resurfacing and looking at the texture of the phenomena without judgement.

Next time, shall we look at the moment when the hand is on your back and you are ready, or not ready to leap?  What does that really feel like?

Mother do you think I am good enough?

(Ellis, 2021. University of Chichester)

Alice Miller (2007) states there is only one weapon in the struggle against mental ill health.  It is the emotional discovery of the truth about childhood.  There are a large number of people who enter therapy in the belief that their childhood was happy and protected.  The causes of emotional disturbance were to be found in the infant’s early adaptation.  The disruption need not have been extreme abuse  (Miller, 2007:5-10).

I witnessed first-hand Rogers’ theory of the absolute power of the helping relationship.  This learning provided an important lesson with those clients who came to counselling with an idea of what they needed to explicate, and who part way through therapy, surprisingly self-direct themselves onto a different path of discovery.  The offer of a safe relationship supported this process combined with having the opportunity to express the phenomenological experiences that transcended the unconscious mind.  Counselling had the capacity to bring to the surface all those experiences that were buried deep and previously rejected as no longer relevant.