The One Thing Holding You Back

By: Raphael Cushnir

Raphael’s work was motivated by his own life struggles at a time that he describes as his own personal “Dark Night of the Soul”. He had what seemed like a perfect life and then all at once he lost his job and his marriage fell apart. An older Monk, a mentor of his at the time, encouraged him to emerge himself in what he was feeling. This was the beginning of Cushnir’s work around emotions. He eventually came up with a metaphor of surfing emotions as a way to ride them out as opposed to resisting them. If an actual surfer contracts and tenses up he often falls off his surfboard. If he relaxes into the wave he has a better chance of riding it out to the beach where the wave subsides. Cushnir believes that as most of us grew up we did not learn how to handle emotions. He believes that emotions are not the problem. Resisting emotions is the problem. Most of us are in some form of resistance most of the time. He believes that any form of resistance is always resisting a feeling. Resisting a feeling can cause it to dominate our lives by our always living to avoid that feeling. He believes that emotions always reside in our bodies. The trouble we experience comes from the way our minds deal with our feelings. Emotions are sometimes accurate and sometimes inaccurate. They are feedback as to what we are experiencing. Cushnir offers his ideas about Brain Chemistry in his discussion of the Triune Brain and the work of Dr. Paul McClean. This model divides the brain up into the Reptilian or Primitive Brain, the Limbic System where emotions arise, and the Neocortex where reasoning takes place. The Primitive brain is concerned with our safety and it is our first response to our world. This is where the Fight or Flight phenomenon occurs. Cushnir adds Freeze and Freak to the original 2 f’s. A problem arises because the Primitive brain can’t tell the difference between a real external threat and an internal threat such as being afraid of making a fool of ourselves. We therefore get kicked into Fight, Flight, Freeze, or Freak inappropriately. I found this work to be very helpful. It presents many experiential exercises to help us learn to deal more effectively with our feelings.

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