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On Mind Serving the Wrong Master

by Philippe Stonebeck 8 months ago in advice

My understanding of human suffering is that the reason we keep reliving the same pain or trauma is that they are frozen memories.

© 2021 Artist Benichou "Self-portrait"

Please take this with a sense of humor, but being human is not always a walk in the park.

At the risk of sounding dramatic and pessimistic, so many people chew on their internal psychological suffering like they chew on a piece of gum; and do so without noticing it. No wonder we see layer upon layer of denial and narcotic cover-ups.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the rate of antidepressant use among teens and adults is increasing at an exponential rate in the past 20 years.

By the time we get out of high school, the flavor of our internal discomforts and hardships have been replaced by the challenges of life...but we’re still chewing.

As an acting coach and director, I have worked with countless individuals during my long career in Los Angeles. I have understood for a long time that the parts of us that hurt deeply are actually memories frozen in time.

Eckhart Tolle calls it the pain-body. How can we give this kind of extreme aching a second thought after all? Whether traumatic, benign or pleasurable, every single moment of our lives is being recorded by the mind.

It is also measured, compared and filed. My understanding of human suffering is that the reason we keep thinking about the same pain or regret scenarios is that they are frozen memories.

Allow me to walk you through what we call triggers in psychology and in the acting profession.

At the time of an unpleasant event or incident, energy is blocked as the mind tries to protect us from feeling the pain of a circumstance I.E. an accident, break-up, the death of someone, a radical change, abuse in any form, you name it.

Because the mind blocks the incident or trauma from becoming conscious, it becomes a memory and that memory is stored in our "unconscious" mind. It is filed in a very special place in full Technicolor with all the feelings, sensations, people, thoughts, etc. associated with what happened.

The person then goes on about life with the pain suppressed by the mind; as if it never happened. However, it is still there.

In the acting world, we call waking up these types of frozen memories “emotional triggers” as part of the creative work we do on “emotional memory work.”

This kind of work was first elaborated by Konstantin Stanislavsky, a then famous director in Russia and then further explored in the early 30's by Lee Strasberg at the famous Actor’s Studio. Stella Adler and many others were also pioneers in the field.

I participated in the early 80's when Mr. Strasberg was still alive. I had the good fortune of being made an “Honorary Member” by Shirley Winters and Arthur Penn, which allowed me to work with studio members on these powerful “emotional triggers.”

I was always astonished at how much frozen pain is stored in the body—suppressed by the mind and the demands of life. There is also great cultural guilt and shame, which further assists the mind in camouflaging the trauma and, more important keep them frozen.

© 2021 Artist Benichou

Once the process is understood, anyone can begin a journey of slowly waking up these frozen memories gently. The idea is to remind each one that they don’t have to be stuck in that frozen state anymore.

It is very much like saying: “things have moved on long ago, it’s time to wake up in the present, see how much time has passed and see what has happened from today's perspective. Then, shake the dust and be okay again. That part of you, which was much younger can be referred to as your "inner child."

You begin to understand that it was only a moment in time that got frozen long ago, similar to a mammoth in arctic ice. No need to wake these memories abruptly. These memories of a former you, typically feel embarrassed for not knowing they were in a frozen state for so long.

You gently give them time to reintegrate into you. All they want is to find their place and fade away. In acting work, we creatively collect them for the purpose of getting in touch with our pain-body and its stored riches. It helps our work be more realistic and credible.

We do so “creatively”, which means we are given a license to get into the pain with the express understanding that we will get out of the pain with a valid return ticket, so to speak. It is extremely sensitive work.

In acting, we "re-contextualize" our painful memories for the benefit of our audience. Hence, why professional acting is NOT therapy but has enormous therapeutic by-products.

Where to begin?

So, how do you start to understand what the mind has done with the painful memories of the past—without having to become a professional actor of course?

First, know that it is only the mind that is not educated and not cleansed of these painful memories. Mind has to be refocused. Hence, why a great acting teacher always bothers to educate you thoroughly about the mind before you plunge into serious emotional work.

Otherwise, it can be devastating and unproductive. A person could literally fall apart emotionally from connecting to the pain. The idea is to do it meticulously.

Know and appreciate that your mind does everything it its power to keep these frozen memories hidden. It is protecting you, so it thinks.

It does it for two reasons: one, because mind likes control and two, it cannot control your state of being unless it has a leverage mechanism in place to pressure you to give up control. Fear is usually what the mind prescribes. If we are afraid to investigate, we will let the mind keep the control.

Thus, by keeping you “in the dark” about your painful memories, it maintains control indefinitely. The result is that the energy of the painful events is kept frozen, and your self-expression and self-confidence really suffers.

It is the “emotional release” that frees up the past and reinstates a natural flow of energy in places where it was previously frozen.

Frozen feelings keep our “true and authentic” self guarded and protected by our ego-mind. Hence, why it is a matter of education first and release second.

Our mind is a master at coming up with reasons and interpretations as to why things happened or did not happen. Most of them are false interpretations to keep us in the dark and for the mind to keep the control. Remember that mind is not educated at this point and thinks it is protecting you. In a real sense, you have to be stronger than your mind.

It’s admittedly difficult to see what the mind does to us, but doable if you are willing. You just need a bit of honesty and a lot of practice.

Mind without education, without direction and without the right focus will wreak havoc in a person’s life. It will keep you away from who you really are. No need to be afraid, it's just what mind does.

The mind always tries to pass itself for you

This is where all useless suffering originates in my view. Hence, why a rigorous acting training can do wonders to help someone get in touch with their true feelings and tap into their inner depth, unavailable prior.

© 2021 Artist Benichou

As a non-religious but nonetheless valid point, Jesus Christ saw suffering clearly back in his day. Without bringing Christianity into focus, he was a true clairvoyant in my view. He understood the very principles we are discussing here.

Living as a free individual is about seeing the beauty that is available below the fumes, below the darkness and below the madness of mind insisting in keeping control.

It is all a matter of focus as in the type of focus that keeps you free of the past by releasing its energetic charges onto your life.

One must get over one’s mind to be free.

Mind is not mad

Mind is not insane, it is only mad when it is focused on the wrong things. This is by far the most profound piece of information I can give you.

It is all a matter of focus and perspective. The problem with most people is that they have allowed their minds to dictate their direction and purpose in life. Mind is not designed to do that.

Mind is a measuring tool not an authority. That is what a professional actor learns in the first few years of training. It is extraordinarily freeing. The famous phrase "get out of you head" is precisely what we mean.

Any musician, actor, dancer or singer will tell you with complete authenticity that they cannot deliver a great performance using their minds.

But, whatever you focus on, tends to own you and keep you prisoner. Mind loves to steer the ship in strange directions.

What is the technique?

Mind is spectacularly creative if it focuses on the right things, things outside of yourself, things that have nothing to do with you or your life. It can, however focus on the beauty of a relationship.

Mind is an outward tool not an inner tool. As an example, when the mind is focused on your past, it keeps on bringing painful memories while keeping them frozen. If it focuses on what you should do with your life, it will come up with all kinds of ideas that have nothing to do with your true feelings.

Follow your instincts and intuition

Mind is not really connected to life, it is enormously essential to understand. Mind filters life abstractly because it is not connected to it in any other way. I have spent over twenty-five years teaching realignment through instincts and intelligence, instead of mind.

Very few people have a perspective on their mind's content. They think it's them doing the thinking. It is the relationship you have to your mind’s content that matters.

The more healthy you are the more visible it is to you that you have a relationship to your mind. Self-absorption is what creates a kind of madness: the incessant flux of focused ideas and storylines.

Mind obsessed with itself will make you miss the ride of your life.

Catch your mind serving the wrong master

That’s all that is needed. When it’s trying to tell you about you or your life. Stop listening and it will focus elsewhere. Simply stop paying attention to your mind and you will see an immediate increase in aliveness, confidence and clarity.

It’s not about winning over or beating the mind, its about having an amazing time with your life, with the correct instrumentation at your service: your instincts and intuition.

Everyone is different

There are no rules as to how you stop listening to your mind. It is an experiment you take on by yourself. Think of it as a game of presence and attentiveness. Stillness and breathing become essential ingredients so you can watch how distracted and falsely motivated mind can get.

Eventually, it will stop keeping your frozen memories hostage and mind will release control. The more you take away the listening to the thoughts of your mind, the more your true path will get revealed through trusting your instincts, intelligence and intuition.

Are you ready? I invite you to start experimenting.

© 2021 Artist Benichou


Philippe Stonebeck

I write to inspire people to walk their unique path with transformative insights into self-knowledge. My goal is to continue teaching essential skills for performance, self-expression and communication so as to empower the individual path.

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