WATER MODULE

PART III: SKILLS
LESSON 8: Healthy Attachment Reach & Response

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LESSON SUMMARY

Lesson 8: Healthy Attachment Reach & Response

In this lesson we explore how to create healthy attachment with the parts of us that may have reached to get their needs met but weren’t responded to in the healthiest way.   Here we will learn how to reprogram our response giving ourselves a healthy parent imprint that will allow us to unwind some of our patterning.   You’ll learn about the Still Face experiment and why we have collectively harded, numbed, and shut down from feeling our needs and how that impacts us individually and culturally.

 

LESSON VIDEOS

VIDEO 1

Video 1 - Healthy Attachment Reach and Response

In this video we explore one of our basic survival needs which is a healthy reach and response.  We’ll look at the discoveries that came from attachment theory as we learn about the primal panic response that was studied in the Still Face Experiment.  We’ll also look at how to reprogram a healthy reach and response through developing our felt sense and the interconnected field of awakened water.

 

Healthy Attachment Reach and Response Audio


VIDEO 2

LESSON VIDEOS

Video 1 - Healthy Attachment Reach and Response

In this video we explore one of our basic survival needs which is a healthy reach and response.  We’ll look at the discoveries that came from attachment theory as we learn about the primal panic response that was studied in the Still Face Experiment.  We’ll also look at how to reprogram a healthy reach and response through developing our felt sense and the interconnected field of awakened water.

 

Healthy Attachment Reach and Response Audio

 

 

Video 2 - Healthy Attachment Skills Lab With Mark Tanaka

In this skills lab with Mark Tanaka we explore the various layers of emotional intensity that arise around our needs as we look at the various parts that get triggered and how to fully attune and respond to them in a healthy way that can help us unwind our unhealthy attachment patterning.   Here we will look at how we project our parts and how to take ownership by bringing in some healthy tree.

 

Healthy Attachment Skills Lab With Mark Tanaka Audio

 

 

LESSON CONTENT

Attachment Theory

 

“Many of us got conditioned when we needed something and we reached, there wasn't a response.   So now we've created all of these compensations to deal with the fact that there wasn't a response at these important times in our life..”

 

Our Survival Needs 

So one of the principles we teach at Luminous is about healthy attachment.  We have healthy needs, especially as children and there is a set of needs that if not met, part of us can't develop.  The oral process is particularly connected to the sense of when we are in need.  When there’s reach there needs to be a felt sense of response. 

 

Many of us got conditioned when we needed something and we reached, there wasn't a response.   So now we've created all of these compensations to deal with the fact that there wasn't a response at these important times in our life.

 

John Bowlby, who was one of the original fathers of attachment theory, did some studies on orphans.  They were given all the shelter, food, and basic physical needs, but they weren't given attention, love and touch and many of the orphans died.   Just feel that because we think that attachment needs that are emotional, aren't connected to our survival, but because we're biologically wired for attachment and have an emotional system that co-regulates others, if we don't get that need met as a child, it's, it's actually a survival need. That's how deep it's in our primal attachment wiring in our system.  

 

There are 2 aspects to attachment theory:

  1. A child needs to be able to have a secure bond with an attachment figure that will respond to their needs and their reach.  
  2. When we attach as adults, we have the same need.  

 

In an older, psychological theory we thought it was okay to let the child cry in the corner.   Attachment theory allowed us to understand more fully that children have real attachment needs and you should respond and fulfill the need.  We thought that adults didn’t have these same needs and that this primarily applied to children.  

 

 

Primal Panic

Sue Johnson, another attachment therapist explains that the original research actually showed that it was the same in adults, that when an adult attaches to another adult they actually have a biological wiring that makes it survival.

RECOMMENDED READING
Hold Me Tight & Love Sense by Sue Johnson 

 

There is a term called primal panic that Sue Johnson explores.. Primal panic is that survival feeling that rises in our body when we're in need and we reach, especially from a primary attachment figure and we don't get response.  So everyone experiences primal panic, and some of us have created these compensations in our system if we feel that panic, we immediately shut down, close off, numb out or go away.

 

In our modern day it’s a bit of a revolutionary idea that we are biologically wired to need each other and that there's a wiring to co-regulate and to reach and to get response. 

 

 


Reprogramming Healthy Attachment with Our Felt Sense

 

“Water is all about the realization of this interconnectedness that just is and this felt sense that we have the capacity to feel ourselves and feel each other. Part of what shuts that down is when we are in need and we reach, it isn't responded to in childhood, and it isn't responded to in family, and it isn't responded to in cultures, then we harden as a culture and we cut off from this natural interconnectedness and felt sense.”

 

One of our goals at the Luminous Awareness Institute is to create a community of people that understand this and actually reprogram healthy attachment, healthy reach and response with each other.  It's one of the reasons we have Mini's so that in a moment of vulnerability you can reach and there's so many people available that someone responds to the need.

 

For many of us it's hard to reach because our early experiences taught us that vulnerability wasn't okay or that it wouldn't be responded to and when we  go into that vulnerability it can bring up such intense anguish and fear that most of us are afraid to allow that the vulnerability to exist and to allow the need.

 

The problem is, if we have a society of people who have to compensate so that they don't feel the panic and they don't feel the need, imagine how we've had to shut down our bodies and shut down our emotional systems and shut down our capacities for feeling.  What do you think that creates? If can't take the risk to be vulnerable with each other what do you think happens to a culture of people that don't have access to this response?

 

...A lack  of empathy.   In order to not feel that primal panic... in order to not feel that deep need and vulnerability, we have to shut down our feelings, which also makes it hard to feel each other.

 

...If we deny our need, then we have a choice of either denying other people’s needs, or getting angry that they have them, denying our own need and our own vulnerability, 

 

...It can allow us to perpetrate violence on others because we aren't even seeing them as fully human, and it also means we're not seeing ourselves  as fully human.

 

Awake Awareness (Air) and Energy Awareness (Water) we sometimes call the "felt sense where we have the capacity to sense our interconnectedness. Can I feel my emotions? Can I feel my sensations? There's a widespread epidemic of people not being able to feel themselves which is called alexithymia.   A large number of people when asked to put their hands on their body, can’t describe the sensation under their hand.  We're very numb .

 

The felt sense is ‘I can feel myself,’ and as that felt sense expands and becomes awakened water we wake up to the interconnected field and there’s this felt sense of everyone, of everything.   Can you feel the trees?  Can you feel other people in a room? Can you feel how your kitty or your dog feels? or your child? That's the felt sense.

 

How do you imagine the world would be different if everybody had a Felt Sense if we had the responsiveness to feel our interconnectivity and never have to shut down? Feel how different the world would be. 


How would a hospital be designed if we were connected to the felt sense.   Would there be access to more nature? Warmer lightning? Softer textures? An atmosphere that affected how our bodies would feel as we were healing?

 

How would our punishment system work if we had the felt sense? What would we do with people that were unable to follow rules or causing disorder, if we had a felt sense of people?  Would we give them environments of love and environments for them to heal?

 

If we had a felt sense how would we treat the animals in factory farms? Could you treat an animal like that if you had a felt sense?  

 

What about how we're treating people in different ethnic groups? 

 

Water is all about the realization of this interconnectedness that just is and this felt sense that we have the capacity to feel ourselves and feel each other.  Part of what shuts that down is when we are in need, and then we have this vulnerability and this need of connection and this need of nourishment,  and this need of our emotions that are vulnerable to be responded to. But if that isn't responded to in childhood and it isn't responded to in family and it isn't responded to in cultures, then we harden as a culture and we cut off from this natural interconnectedness and felt sense.

 

 

The Still Face Experiment 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=643CvSHSf8I


The Still Face Experiment is an actual experiment where they have a baby with their mother there's a reach and response and then the scientist tells the mother to still her face and become unresponsive and they watch what happens to the baby over time.  She maintains a stone-like face.   

 

The first thing the baby does is try to get more attention.  When that doesn't work, because the mother is told to remain still, the baby then starts to go a little more into a panic  and you can see the baby's body starts to go to new panic positions.   At some point the baby freaks out, has the actual primal panic and screams. In this experiment, it's a little painful to watch they have the mother stay still.   The baby starts to cry and scream and freak out and the mother stays still.  In the final phase the baby becomes still faced.

 

After the freak out and the panic and the extreme emotion, the baby actually just becomes like the mother and shuts down.   This experiment shows the phases of what happens when that secure, responsive bond is broken. 

 

If you find that you have trouble feeling your emotions and you have trouble crying, which is a natural ability to discharge what we feel, you might wonder if you had more of that experience all the way to the resignation.   

 

Our work is to bring compassion to that instead of judging yourself for your inability to feel, you might want to consider the context that created that tendency in your body to not be able to feel both the context with a parent and the culture that supported that context. 

 

The Layers of Emotional Intensity In Our Needs

There’s a distinction between knowing that you have needs, and an awareness of those needs.   There’s an emotional intensity that many of us have pushed away of both the need and the feeling of the need not being met. 

 

There is the pain of having denied your own needs as an intensity of emotion we can pick up and there is the intensity of the emotion of actually having your needs met.  Sometimes both of those layers have been numbed so there can be trauma at those two layers.

 

There’s sometimes a containment and then a terror underneath it.  The containment is the internal structure because our environment wasn’t available to support us.  “I’m falling into the abyss and there’s nothing and no one here,” and the emotional terror that goes along with that. 

 

That oral comp part is a younger part. It’s a protector.  It feels like an adult.  It feels like it's got it together. It's strong, but it's actually a younger part that's underdeveloped, that's trying to hold it together and they are tired. They actually needed to be held. They wanted to be held.

 

Needs Are Non-Negotiable

Need is non-negotiable. Wanting is negotiable.  We might kind of want a Porsche or to eat ice cream, negotiable. We need to be emotionally mirrored and know that we’re secure and cared for when we;re a baby...that’s non-negotiable. 

 

Our nervous systems and bodies are intelligent so when we have a need it's very strong when it's not met. Human beings are tribal and we can't survive and develop properly without the mirroring process by the adult nervous system. The nervous system and brain is actually underdeveloped and it's through the mirroring process that the nervous system and the brain properly forms and develops.  It's necessary, it's not a negotiable thing. It's a necessary ingredient in development and maturity.

 

A healthy self identity needs affirmation to develop properly

The self identity actually evolves around the kinesthetic somatic sense of being met and properly cared for and feeling secure in the connection. So if you have any experience of insecurity or self esteem issues, or sense of there's something wrong with you, you were just not properly met in your development and it's not your fault, but it becomes our responsibility as we get older to heal.  A healthy self identity needs affirmation, needs love and care to know that it's okay. That it's actually developing properly. 

 

That kinesthetic felt sense of wrongness turned into "I'm wrong. There's something wrong with me."  That sense of wrongness is not the sense of wrongness that you are wrong.  It's the sense of wrongness around something that's should have happened

The aversion towards that wrongness and the pain and discomfort that we feel when we aren’t being met is what turned into an aversion towards the self. 

 

 

 

Human survival is tied to tribal behavior

Human beings are tribal and very adaptable by nature. That's one of our strengths.  Part of that adaptability is cued and developed through the social engagement mechanism. Human survival is tied to tribal behavior and connection. For us to survive, we instinctively know what we need to bond and connect and get the transmission from the generation ahead of us to then adapt to them.

 

The way we connect to that process is through our attachment needs.  When you hear "Yes, you got it. We love you. We accept you." That means you’re doing it right and are adapting correctly and developing properly.  Sometimes our family system didn’t give us those cues.  They didn't embrace us, even though we were totally okay. So then we're ask ourselves why we aren't we getting this cue? There must be something wrong here. Okay. I need to adjust and that creates this anxious looping cycle. 

 

 

Our need for attunement

There's a deep need for experiencing a tremendous amount of attunement over and over. And it's that attunement that allows you to then clarify what feels good.  We need someone else's attention to attune to us to know what attunement feels like.   A lot of attunement and a lot of safe space is the container we want to create. 

 

It's important to realize that these are our child parts at work. In adult relationships, when the child part runs amuck it can become an issue.  We might be trying to get our needs met in places where it might not be able to get met and recreate the experience.  

 

Some of us had chaotic parents that we needed to take care of, even just psychically. So we were  pulled outwards to focus on them and we need to do work where we're receiving until that feels comfortable. Once those parts felt really held and met and, and cared for properly, we will be able to in a more balanced way, relate out here without resentment where we only give when we can and we can also say no. From this healthy place we aren’t seeing others as helpless,

 

 


Projecting Our Oral Compensation Process Externally

When you see out there that no one's available and no one's responsive, that's actually not completely real in a sense.   You treat yourself the same way that your parents often treated you.  That’s actually the oral comp part of you projecting out there, but tThe way you see the world is colored by our oral comp process.  The more that we meet our own needs internally, the more they’ll be mirrored to us in our external world, too.  Our expectations change also.

 

The perception of self and the world is constructed on top of our somatic attachment identity. So a secure attachment identity will perceive a safe world out there with people with a sense of ample responsiveness in the world.  “If I ever have a need I know that need can be met...my needs are met all the time.”   That's the view that should develop over time as the inner reservoir of feeling met, increases more and more, that dictates the behavior and the perception.

 

Sometimes we realize actually getting our needs met was to not get my needs met because that felt safer- there's  this fear of betrayal and fear of being needed.  So we chase after getting our needs met from people that are unavailable because we ourselves are not available. 

 

We've internalized it and it becomes a projection that we're attached to in a way.  

 

 

 

Being With The Entitlement of The Oral Process

 

Sometimes the entitlement of the classic oral process can seem can trigger disdain or repulsion.   We are expecting to be dealing with adults so when we get child behavior from someone else, it can be challenging.  In those moments we can see underneath the hood and notice that ‘the child’ is expecting the mother to show up because in their lives either their actual parent or inner parent never showed up for them.  If instead we react in a part bringing resentment and charge the energy is compounded and is now being projected towards people who are not our parents.  This entitled  energy is looking for resolution and responsiveness which unfortunately often goes unmet, which compounds the wounding and the pain. 

 

WIth more discernment you can ask yourself do you want to respond or do you need to respond? It can get confusing.  Just pause there for a second and notice that spot in your system.   If you don’t tend to ask for your needs and your partner does, "Hey, I never asked for my needs. You asked so much, it's not fair. It's not balanced." Notice if there is anger or resentment around imbalance. 

 

As long as we're projecting and out there as a judgment and blaming them, it never solves the problem which is actually for your needs to be communicated, properly met and vouched for.

 

 

 

Taking ownership of our child parts in the oral process with healthy tree

Sometimes when we run the oral process our child parts get really demanding.  It’s really important to create the proper container for these parts, which might be working with a therapist or a healer who's well-trained, because in that container, we can actually replay the parent-child dynamic in a healthy way.   That’s what the system is seeking is a completion of the child-parent relationship dynamic.  

 

We might not realize that we're taking our child part into adult relationships where we're expecting other adults and we ourselves are expecting to be adults and meet as adults.   You want to do your best to take ownership of your child parts.  

 

First, by becoming aware of them and becoming the adult with that child part.  Second, by finding other adults that can help you in a therapeutic context where someone's trained and it’s safe because we don't want to continue to expose that part to interactions that are a replay of a painful experience

 

Here you can bring in ‘healthy tree’.   You care for that part of you as you would care for anyone else that was harmed. If you met a little boy who was traumatized, you would probably be very protective of that boy.  "I'm going to take you in. I will protect you.”

 

The key to healing by bringing ‘healthy tree; is to direct the capacities you might already have caretaking others and directing that same caretaking to yourself.  We might have a hard time actually finding our own system and staying long enough to help those parts so it’s important to receive it from others because there's so many blind spots and numbing in the system.

 

Self to Self, Self to Other, Other to Self

Take a moment to assess how good you are at taking care of yourself (self to self)? 

How good are you at taking care of other people (self to other)?  

How easy or hard is it for you to receive from others (other to self?)

 

Depending on how you answer the above, that’s what you need to work on.  You're not going to feel like doing that. It's not going to be your intuition to go do that.  You will likely need to create a structure or a discipline around it.

 

 

Healthy Attachment In Adult Relationships

Often our partners will feel safer when we take ownership consciously.  "Hey, I'm aware that I have this pattern. Just want you to know I'm working on it and I take full responsibility for it.   These are places you can help occasionally if you have the capacity to do so. I would love your help." This demonstrates ownership and self-responsibility, which is a mature trait that our partners usually want to see in us alongside an invitation to help us in very specific places.  When we take ownership of it as a part, and then we communicate with that understanding and hold that, then you can have a healthy relationship. 

 

In an adult relationship, there needs to be freedom and choice.  This is key.  In an adult-child relationship, when you're a child, it's not a choice, it's a need. It's not negotiable, but in adult relationships, it is a choice that we're in the relationship, so in a sense, there needs to be some negotiability.   

 

You might also work on it outside the relationship with someone who's agreed to take that role with you,  to reparent your system until you can hold it yourself. 

 

What's the process to getting in the right relationship with our own needs especially with the needs that we don't know that we have? 

 

 

STEP 1 Awareness

 

  1. Awareness. Tuning into what’s there.  Awake awareness has this quality of total surrender and allowing and by nature embraces everything that arises.  Tune into that quality in the awareness - it’s unbiased and takes on everything as it is.  Be with your system your whole somatic continuum. Let everything that you associate with "I" or the self arise in that open field and let the self in the body lean into that unbound open awareness that's holding it without any effort.  Nothing needs to be done.   The presence of the awareness is the antidote for being ignored, not seen, or feeling alone.   The open space allows what's there to safely emerge. 
  2. Acceptance on an essential level is really the essence, loving acceptance is what we needed to receive.  Just felt and known without judgment  that conveys okayness to our system.  The anger, the conflict, the uncertainty, insecurity.  This is okay and in that there's just total acceptance already available. 
  3. Allowing.   See if you  can just gradually allow the system to unwind inside that space, in that loving and accepting presence. It just happens on its own because the antidote is already here.

 

 

 

STEP 2 Responsiveness

  1. Attunement.  Here we can be in a session with someone who is responding to us in a state of responsiveness and attunement.  There might be something very specific that this system needs and when it hasn't been responded to we tend to not respond as well.  We simply mirror the way we were treated.  Our inner parent is the same as our real sometimes messed up outer parent.
  2. Get curious. Engage with curiosity to see specifically what this being needs from me? From my inner adult? Do they need affection? A hug? Do they need to be contained and protected? Do they need more room and space to feel and emote while you’re here? 
  3. Respond.   It’s okay to experiment and explore on a visceral or somatic level to get at the core of what’s really there.  Sometimes you hit a spot and it’s not a word that we need but to find that feeling we never got that we don’t know how to find in our own system to do for ourselves.  It might be nonverbal.

 

Just opening space, bringing open awareness with kindness and being curious as we attune and explore, if you just did that as a healer, we would do tremendous work in the world.  It doesn't need to be that complicated.

 

Oral comp is a projection of our own needs.  The more we work that process and meet that spot, the less we will judge what's there. And naturally when we meet that spot, as that translates to behavior, we're setting better boundaries and making sure our energy is first of all cared for.   

 

Work with all this somatically. As much as possible, come back to the body, check on the feeling of it. As much as you can, try to grow the capacity to experience fulfillment and the experience of being met.  Full visceral compression is one of the things that I'll do that feels very much like it satisfies a primal need of a child part that gets really met with this.

 

Havening is another method of soft petting of yourself which is sensual and gentle can be soothing for the nervous system as well.

 

 

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