Response to Mitch Hall’s Commentary on “Practicing Proprioceptive Dialogue” (Lloyd Gilden)
I want to address one of his questions in particular, namely, how participation in such a group affects participants outside the group. I will do so while trying to proprioceive, or engage in what Trigant Burrow referred to as “cotention.”
My experience has been, and continues to be, profoundly influenced by both my experience in Social Self-Inquiry groups and in my work with my clients. I am becoming more and more aware of my affective reactions and projections in my personal relationships. Whenever I perceive what I interpret to be criticism or efforts to control my behavior, I immediately sense feelings of tension, frustration, and, sometimes, anger. I have learned to identify these feelings and remind myself, “Stay calm. Breathe deeply. Refrain from reflexively reacting. Discuss the matter rationally.”
To a considerable extent I am now able to avoid confrontations and arguments. It does, however, require not only restraint, but a very strong conviction that aggressive interactions are counterproductive and destructive to my relationships.
I am not claiming I am able to remain totally calm during an encounter; although, as I have engaged in the practice of breathing and proprioception (or cotention) over the years, I have noticed significant development of this ability. It is very challenging, but I consider it to be one of the most important steps we can take to move beyond our social neurosis and learn to engage in more harmonious, cooperative relationships.
I’ll close with the proprioceptive observations that I am feeling happy that I can share this with you, as well as a bit self-congratulatory. At what point is self-awareness pure and honest, without the ego intruding?