Recently Adyashanti, the Zen based teacher, appeared on Oprah around his book, Falling into Grace. A little more advanced than Eckhart’s approach. One of the interesting details when touching on the pain body was how we pick up energy from our parents and carry on the family pain body energy patterns.
This is a useful distinction. I’ve spoken before about the Bhavas, how we’re a mixture of our bloodline and our past life development. In the same way our pain or energy body carries charges we pick up several ways.
Mainly this is:
– the unresolved baggage we bring forward from past likes, also called karma
– the baggage we pick up from those around us, mainly our family
It’s useful to understand that very young children, even still in the womb, are like sponges, soaking up everything they can to adapt into the environment they’re born into. Much of that is very valuable. It’s how we learn to talk, for example. A child is soaking up meaning and feeling too, not just the sounds.
Along with all that useful learning comes the energetic charges shared in a family. The emotional tone, we could say. This comes in early and deeply and is often largely subconscious. But it sets a background tone that shadows the rest of our lives unless it’s resolved.
Learning to resolve our karmic baggage simply takes growing awareness. Noticing our reactive states and becoming aware of how they’re triggered, then allowing them to resolve. That can take some practice as karma often comes with something of a blind spot. But when we grow enough to detach from the drama, we can begin to notice it progressively better. And that helps us make choices and disengage from the charge, thus helping to resolve it.
Family dynamics are similar but because this energy is often not conscious and operates subtly and pervasively, it’s not as easy to become conscious of it. We may find it easier to note by contrast but we won’t find that within the family. The whole family is engaging, supporting, or trying to avoid the charges in various ways. And of course, this just reinforces them.
Such dynamics are often layered as well. So there can be a surface dynamic, like everyone is anxious or angry or emotionally dramatic. But there is typically deeper fear-driven values, like fear of loss, or of being trapped, or of being abandoned, or of not enough, and so forth. Such fears are rarely conscious because they’re uncomfortable. But they’re part of our identity and pervasive in our perception and life choices.
This pervasiveness may show up as avoidance. We may try to avoid being like our parents, for example, but never resolve the energy and so become them anyway. Or we may unintentionally directly emulate things we dislike, like bigotry.
Ironically, if the pattern meets needs in some way, like giving us apparent control, we may get identified with it in a “positive” way. This can create some of the strange self-reinforcing but distorted behaviour you see. For example, we may unconsciously learn that being angry helps us get our needs met, thus reinforcing it. Did we experienced any better examples?
It’s also worth noting that about 1 in 5 people is an empath of some type. Such people will tend to take on others baggage throughout their lives, unless they gain some skills with it. The above is mainly what we begin life with.
As the Yoga Sutras (ch2:v7-8) pointedly observe, Attachment is the result of pleasure. Aversion is the result of pain. These are 2 of the 5 sources of suffering the book lists.
Where karma brings us a blind spot that causes us to walk into situations we would otherwise avoid, family dynamics can be like a giant red button. Certain circumstances trigger it and it kind of takes over. Fear rules the choices. But families tend to hide this stuff and not talk about it. That doesn’t help recognize the pattern.
I’ve been lucky enough to share with an observant sibling. The distinct perspectives of the family dynamics help shed light for both of us.
That distinct perspective points to another layer of this – framing. How we interpret experiences. Within a given family, the same energy dynamics can lead to very distinct responses, as I touched on above. There will be avoiders and enablers, instigators and diffusers. Each will experience the dynamic differently. And that points out that we can change how we frame it and that can change how we react, even if it may still arise unconsciously.
Of course, both our own baggage and that of others are of the same stuff. Only the content and source vary. So while they may have different flavours, both are healed much the same way.
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