What is Cognitive Resonance? What does it Heal?
Cognitive Dissonance Theory can be most easily be described by, “if there is a problem, I must solve it.”
When we experience depression, addictive behavior, disease and other modes of suffering, the tendency is to avoid the situationsand information that could otherwise confront the roots of the discomfort at the source. It is more commonly referred to as our pleasure-seeking pain-avoidance tendencies.
According to the psychological Fear Avoidance Model, pain and sickness arises the moment we avoid fear and pain. According to recent research made around the Information Avoidance Model, patients are often unable to seek for positive solutions and guidance when they contract into fear-based emotional states after they are diagnosed with a debilitating condition.
We think we are here to solve problems.
I was on the return plane home on the way back from Bali and Amara’s Samata Center where it fully dawned on me just how long it took me to understand the nature of transformative healing in the face of our problem-solving tendencies. Reviewing my notebook, I found the words written: the moment a problem is “solved,” in a sense it actually becomes bigger.
On that plane ride home, I reviewed in my mind what I had always known through thousands of healing sessions and workshops held around the world … but seldom fully acknowledged. That people want to heal not for the purpose of authentically shifting to an evolved state. But to avoid pain and states of fear.
What made this especially clear were my recent encounters with people in Bali and a gifted lady in Singapore named Kelly who’ve undergone deep bouts of depression. I breathed with them a sense of clarity I normally do not experience in busier cities where I often do most of my work. In taking time to witness their heart, what I saw was not the depression that they thought they were dealing with. What I was fully witnessing was the cessation of fear and pain avoidance, the depths of which revealed a rare beauty and authenticity we simple know when we step into its presence.
I met Kelly in Singapore before I came to Bali. She had been suffering from a profound depression for an extended period, and after attending an Inner Dance process held in a place called New Life in Thailand, something shifted that lasted for a transformative two months until she joined us for the workshops in Singapore. I asked her to describe the nature of the shift, how it happens within us if it was describable in words.
The most important experience I have had in my journey out of addiction and toward a friendship with my mental illness has been an acceptance of reality as reality. I operated for my entire life from a place of fear, preemptively sabotaging anything good in my life, convinced that eventually
I would be rejected or disappointed anyway.
I had been aware of mindfulness, and the concept of the eternal moment,
of living inside the breath, but these were abstracts, and unreachable ones.
I would come to learn that transition would not come gently to me;
the infrastructure of my defense mechanisms was such that
it needed to be obliterated rather than peaceably dismantled.
What needed to happen was a violent, cathartic, ego-destroying,
horrific show, and that’s what happened.
To come out of prison without realizing I had been there
was deeply traumatic, and the inner dance caught me in that vulnerable moment.
I needed a God other than my own self-obsession. God was inside me,
I realized, rather than something with which to compete, or do battle.
The composite experience of my transformative arc –
the crushing mayhem of falling apart,
the bruised and battered surrender,
the community forming itself around me,
holding me, the inner dance lifting me
out of my human limitations,and then the
setting down of my bare feet on new earth –
has served to soften me.
The world outside is less important to me now.
It exists, and I must interact with it because
I choose to live in a city and do things like
rent an apartment and buy sandwiches,
but my skin is no longer so permeable that
the world outside and the sacred inner space are conflated.
I am much more safe now, not just because
I know I won’t commit suicide, but because
I am not afraid of dying. In fact, I know for certain
that death is an illusion, and it doesn’t matter
what I do or how I am seen or what
I contribute to this planet while I visit it.
I used to think that healing meant returning,
but I have no cognitive memory of the place
that I am now returning.
The feeling of familiarity isn’t quite the same
as coming home from a long journey,
and so I almost didn’t recognize it.
It’s difficult sometimes to measure distance
when my nose is right up against the path,
but every once in awhile I get a
glimpse from a high-up place, and
I can see the place I came from,
and the awe in
Mary Raynor is an amazing medical practitioner whom I met during a teacher’s training held in Hawaii in 2011. Many years before I met her, she had already healed herself naturally of a disease doctors said was incurable. During the training, she experienced a severe migraine which she has normally suffered from for many decades now. This video captured how inner dance provides a feedback into that rare spontaneous healing event when the mind and body comes into a natural congruence once we shift our internal awareness of the world around us. This is her story.