Finding Your Seat with Your Demons and Dragons: Resolutions
You may think the creation of the Gestalt-like therapy activity of sitting in different chairs and acting “as if” the you in that personality-chair is the source of your responses is a relatively new psychotherapy intervention. However, some roots of this process may go back as far as certain practices of eleventh century Tibetan yoga and meditation. Earlier Buddhist and Chod practices included finding deities and demons had some subtle relationship to being in your seat and becoming one with that personification. The “empty chair” technique as modified below comes from the work of Tsultrim Allione about transforming your demons.
In this post I will use the word “dragon” to replace the word “demon.” Several years ago I wrote a format for transforming your dragons – to become one with them as a means to subdue their negative energies. Here the use of words like demons and dragons is purely therapeutic metaphor. I will depend more on my earlier version of this intervention. Let’s begin.
Set up four chairs or cushions, and place them so you can move to each with your eyes closed. Best to seat yourself in the middle, and place the Ally to your right and the Dragon to your left. The last cushion or chair is directly in front of you – it is an a metaphor for observation. With your eyes open, sit in each place to see what you feel like being there.
1) Sitting in your place – first experience a period of mindfulness meditation. Just be with yourself and note whatever comes into awareness without evaluating it. Breathe calmly, slowly, and deeply. Once you feel you are in a calm abiding meditation state, begin to think about which dragon you want to transform. It is wise-minded to select a dragon that is NOT one of your most ferocious emotionally. Common dragons may represent anxiety, fear, depression, trauma, addictions, other compulsions, relationship problems, etc. Think about it, and slowly and with ease make an image of your dragon in your imagination. Be sure you can tolerate the emotional reaction to the image. If not, alter the image until you can do so. If you cannot find some ease with any of the images, stop doing this activity. Just continue to meditate on your gratitude for being alive as a precious human being.
2) Still sitting in your place – if you can tolerate the image, please close your eyes. This intervention works better with eyes closed. Visualize the metaphor of “feeding” your dragon so it is more content, thus less troubling for you. Here “feeding” does not mean giving the dragon what it craves as self-medication; rather, feeding refers to what it needs but is not getting from you – thus its continued craving for other things. Generate some emotional energy to become one with the dragon. It is already part of you in your mind, so this step simply presents what already exists. Be aware of your feeling state at this time.
3) Move to your dragon’s place with your eyes still closed. Be one with it. Ask your dragon metaphor what it needs but is not receiving from you. Wait! Ask again if necessary, and again. Sometimes it takes a brief period of dissociation in the mind (from your ego to the dragon metaphor) for the answers to begin. The dragon is your dragon, and it is alive in your mind and body. Sit calmly and wait until you begin to hear something from inside of you. Listen!!!! Listen very carefully. Remember what you heard. Try to narrow down what your dragon needs from you.
4) Move to your ally’s place. Be still inside. Breathe calmly. Ask your ally metaphor how you can do what the dragon needs. What can you do? How can you do it? Can you do it alone? Will you need help? Listen carefully to the advice of your ally – on inner self-helper as many people call it. Remember what you heard. Your inner self-helper is always looking out for your best interests.
5) Go back to the dragon’s place, and simply vow that you will do your best to deliver what needs to be delivered. Make a real vow. Get the feel of the dragon metaphor at this time. Use my CABS-VAKGO-IS-Rels system here. Use thoughts, emotions, specific behaviors, visual memory and future projection, auditory memory and future projection, kinesthetic/sensation memory and future projection, intuition, spirituality and helpful relationships to carry out your plan. Really contemplate it. See it in your imagination.
6) Go back to your personal place. Take a few minutes to rest, then contemplate the meaning of what you have learned from both your dragon and your inner self-helper. Note privately what your emotional state is now. Write down some details on your plan to satisfy your dragon so it will be able to transform. Remember it is all about mind-body transformation. This is the path to improvement.
7) The last step – Move to the observer metaphor place and seek any other information and support that may be helpful. Now go back to your own place and just rest in inner peace and silence.
For another far more detailed version of this intervention see Allione, T. (March 26, 2015). Feeding Your Demons…www.tricycle.com,
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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