Does this seem familiar? In the course of a normal day, you check your work email and your box is full of messages, some urgent. You check your personal email, perhaps you have more than 1 account, and there are many people awaiting replies from you. You have one phone, sometimes two, dangling from your belt or in your purse. You check your work voice mail and there are urgent calls that need urgent responses. You check your voice mail at home. And of course your cell phone. In between all this, you may be texting a friend. Maybe you are twittering somewhere. And there are people, some long lost, to connect to through Facebook and My Space. Not to mention blogging (like I’m doing right now). In any given day, you are running raged and can’t possibly keep up.
Does that picture depict your life? While technology offers the promise of freeing us from menial tasks and making life easier, in reality it just seems to make life busier.
That’s where psychotherapy comes in. Given the normal busyness of life, there needs to be some way to slow down, to check in with oneself, to relate to another human being (at least in person without some technology mediating the experience). It seems to me that this is an essential aspect of what therapy offers. My clients come into the room and we take inventory, they check in with themselves and with me. By slowing down, and by talking with another person, people find themselves, having gotten lost somewhere around the 100th email at work or 15th voice mail message.
I once heard a spiritual teacher talk about this phenomena by using the analogy of a train. He said that actually while the train wheels are spinning incredibly fast, there is a microsecond (perhaps even less than that) where the wheel is motionless. It is in that still moment that the wheel makes contact and thus keeps on track. I’m not sure if the physics described here are accurate, but I like the metaphor.
Psychotherapy is a slowing down of the wheels so as to make contact and gain direction. I don’t mean to suggest that every session is some slow, long drawn out affair. In fact, clients may often talk about quite a few subjects in any given session. But together we make space, we carve out this special time, in order to regain a sense of oneself and of one’s direction. Often this involves becoming reacquainted with one’s emotions and one’s body. There are other activities, such as yoga, meditation, gardening, that help a person in this endeavor as well. And given how busy life is, we need all the help we can get to slow down.