For numerous months, Leila couldn’t stop ruminating about the cataclysmal event of discovering coffee on her partner – mama-in- law’s tunic. Images from the traumatic event on her son’s marriage day returned constantly, intermixing with affiliated images of Eleonore undermining Leila’s marriage to her son and of Leila’s grandmother rejecting and smirching her as a child in front of her relatives. Centered around this smirching theme, these frozen images arose putatively out of nowhere to consume Leila’s attention. They were hard to shake, leaving Leila feeling weak in her body, queasy in her stomach, and with a band of pressure squeezing her head.
Age-old, tender, and occasionally agonizing dispositions like Leila’s tend to repeat themselves despite our conscious want for them to stop. That’s the R in LRPP (long- standing, repetitious, painful patterns of hurt) repetitious. Our painful gests reoccur in patterns of seeing, allowing, feeling, and imagining, which are also frequently followed by obsessive and unskillful ways of carrying.
Psychology and reiteration coercion
Psychoanalysts similar as Sigmund Freud andC.G. Jung used the term reiteration coercion for this ubiquitous dynamic in which a person constantly relives a traumatic event or its circumstances over and over again. Freud saw reiteration as our psyche’s attempt to master delicate events; he understood it as a robotic yet unprofitable attempt to heal. Also, the psychoanalyst Paul Russell has proposed that by ruminating about a memory, we’re reliving a painful experience in order to master the inviting passions that followed the original trauma.
Russell also describes the driving forces behind our repeating patterns as emotional rather than cognitive. Traumatic events change our brain structure and chemistry. They alter our brain physiology on a micro position but also make us prone to protective and frequently destructive ways of managing. There’s a wordless quality to traumatic recollections with little verbal narrative yet with pictorial images and fleshly passions — like Leila’s weakness, queasiness, and head pressure. Flashbacks frequently arise inadvertently, and we’re ignorant of their underpinning patterns. And indeed when we come apprehensive of the patterns, they remain tenacious, with a driven quality.
LRPPs are characterized by these contemplations, images, sensations, and passions that intrude into our psyche, demanding to be repeated and ever released. But in our unconscious attempt to avoid being hurt again, we indurate and constrict, as Leila did.
The Jungian critic Robert Bosnak describes complexes (what I call LRPPs) as calcified, insulated islets of traumatic recollections that must be loosened up and reintegrated by our psychosomatic system. The scar towel forming a defensive shell around our once traumas needs to be dissolved so they can eventually be digested and excluded. Reiteration coercion (the unknowing reiteration of studies, actions, or whole patterns of responding) can also be seen as unconscious attempts to resolve the walled-off recollections.
With my LRPPs, themes of feeling rejected, barred, and not valued have come up again and again as a distraction of feelings, studies, images, actions, and fleshly sensations. In a painful occasion fifteen times agone, some preceptors in my original Buddhist group let me know, in no uncertain terms, that my approach was too untraditional and that they would no longer drink me as part of their tutoring community. This rejection kept my ruminating mind hooked for times subsequently, spinning in noway- ending circles through my head. As I repeated the story to myself over and over, I would consider how effects could have happed else, while tone- mistrustfulness ate down at me. The fewest detector in my day-to- day life could bring me back to this hurt and spark my preoccupation with this group and their rejection of me. My body would feel constricted and cold, hankering for the warmth of a safe and kind spiritual family. Gests that brought out analogous sentiments of feeling barred and rejected repeated themselves numerous times throughout the decades of my life.
Repetitious reflection informed by Buddhist training
Reflection — or papancha, as it’s called in Buddhist psychology — is the experience of biting on studies and passions in a way that keeps us wedged and paralyzed. We dwell on and indeed amplify the disturbing aspects of a situation, like Leila’s continuous ruminating about the coffee incident with Eleonore. Long after a painful occasion has passed, we relive events as if they’re passing in the present. It can be likened to the inordinate development of scar towel around an injury. Physiologically speaking, a person who has been wounded develops abnormalities in their stress hormones and thrill patterns in their autonomic nervous system that make their brain prone to hyperactivity.
Ruminating and obsessing about commodity that went wrong — similar as repeating studies and passions over and over again — may give us a sense of taking action toward resolving a situation that feels distressing and out of control. We may hope that doing so will relieve our stress. Generally, still, we ’re simply cutting the groove indeed deeper, icing that our painful patterns continue to repeat for indeed longer.
The Buddha, like a good croaker, understood our body’s and psyche’s attempts to resolve painful knots of trauma within ourselves and tried to lessen the suffering we witness caused by our strong appetite to reply and repeat. As he explained it, suffering comes from grasping or pushing down our gests, whether affable, unwelcome, or neutral feeling. This appetite to grasp or avoid is so subtle, so aboriginal, that we’re inadvertently drawn to repeat whatever gets us near to our solicitations or further down from our fears. But that reiteration, performed over and over again, is what deepens and sensitizes our injuries, keeping them alive. When we continuously pick off the emotional scab through our repetitious studies, the crack will noway heal.
There can be an addicting quality to this process. Indirect and repetitious studies and passions try to allure us, just like fast food calls out to us to be consumed, offering the possibility of instant delectation and the pledge of no longer feeling empty. We can all fete a bittersweet temptation transuded by the saltness of reflection or agreeableness of a familiar, repeating geste. Conduct, passions, and studies call out, wanting to be continued and echoed, but this is what I call a “ false mending.” Reiteration promises feeling better, but in fact this wrong kind of food makes us feel sick and weakened.
Feeding the pain- body
Our compulsive, repetitious studies can also be understood in terms of Eckhart Tolle’s pain- body. He describes a pain- body as a semiautonomous energy form that lives in utmost mortal beings and consists of a wobbling energy field that’s always in stir. This pain- body has its own primitive intelligence with its entire provocation being survival. It feeds itself emotionally painful energy in order to immortalize its actuality.13 You could say that the pain- body is addicted to unhappiness, which is in turn fed by negative thinking and emotional drama.
It can be delicate to fete this pain- body in ourselves and indeed more grueling to spot it in others. For utmost people, the pain- body has both a dormant and an active state. The dormant state can last for hours, weeks, or months, depending on the existent, until it gets stirred up. Leila’s pain- body, which is veritably analogous to a LRPP — the feeling of being an castaway since the days spent at her grandmother’s house — sat dormant in her psyche until it was actuated by a new brush-off or rejection. By the time of her son’s marriage, her pain- body was formerly quite a potent beast, and when Leila spotted Eleonore, it roared to life again, filling Leila with great torture. Whether the pain- body is simply a reverberative conceit or a definable thing in itself, it’s an image that can help us easily understand the repetitious, addicting, and indeed parasitic nature of our own LRPPs.
Psychology, Buddhism, and Tolle’s pain- body all describe an compulsive and ruminating state and its addicting quality. Whether called pain- body, complex, or LRPP, this experience can snare and hold us in the fray of its influence. The Buddha saw attachment, grasping, and adhering as the cause of our endless suffering. He recommended eight introductory treatment strategies, named the eightfold path, to heal our sick souls. Yet every treatment plan needs to be finely tuned to the particular requirements, terrain, circumstances, and times a case is living in.