Meditation, Dissociation, Trauma

Meditation and dissociation… A couple of years ago I attended a sonic meditation exercise.
In a partially darkened room, we were invited to find a comfortable position on the floor, while sounds–bells, soft cymbals, tapping on wooden blocks, were alternated, as the guides circulated around the room. At the time, I choose to sit, rather than lie on the floor, because it was easier to breath (allergies), but now I believe there was more to this.

I first practiced meditation when I was 18–motivated by reading about Zen, and have, off and on over the years– since… but never sustained it for long. I was thinking about this at the end of the sonic meditation exercise. I had found it, unsatisfying… more than that. Disturbing. What was it that I was feeling?

In looking back at times when I meditated in the past, I recalled, that when I had finished…( I started to write, ‘recovered’) — I would at first feel transported, removed, elevated–but should I be disturbed in that state, interrupted–I would often explode in anger. The meditation, which at first made me feel at peace, left me more vulnerable, less able to deal with normal irritations. Something connected in this sonic exercise. I even wrote about it to the leaders of that evening, and not long after, to Timmy Dunn, on why I didn’t think I could join in the meditations he was hosting at the time at A-Space… that it felt — or seemed as though — meditation, rather than integrating my mind-body in the present, was wakening latent trauma–and the feeling I’d come to identify with mediation, was more like… no–was, in fact, a state of dissociation–very like what happens in situations of crisis, where one’s full attention is demanded. Emotional response will be, for the time, repressed. Then, when the crisis is over, and it’s safe to let out feelings that had to be withheld while dealing with it.

What then, was the connection, between meditation–the emotional reactions that would often follow–reactions all out of proportion to their provocation, and the healthy flight-fight suspension of emotions in a crisis… followed, by normal, healthy release? Could it be, that the mental state that had become familiar to me in meditation–was dissociation from trauma or crisis, remembered, and unresolved, and the post-meditation vulnerability, was emotional release–misdirected? I’ve wondered since if this is something that’s been studied?

Today, I found the article in this link.

What’s in a name?

Little by little, I’m reclaiming my given name.

‘Jacob Russell’ is retired.

My earliest memory of name switching–3 years old. Lived in a little, two story, two bedroom house with my maternal grandmother, Lorain (Gramma Rein… who I watched die of a stroke, age 12, alone in our family cottage at Bass Lake) with my aunt, Carolyn–not yet 16. Murdered by her husband, in 1965… I washed the blood from the basement floor at the bottom of the stairs where she fell after he stabbed her 23 times… and my uncle Will–who was only 16. I did not like being called “Little Will.”

My middle name, Russell, was my father’s first name. I guess they figured I wouldn’t like being “Little Russell” and better, so they called me ‘Rusty.’ That was my name through childhood, and in my family–and to my summer friends. At school, (which was my prison…I lived only for the summer with my real friends) I tried Willard, briefly. By Jr. High, I accepted Russell. I took on “Jacob Russell” when I began submitting poetry and stories–in my early 40’s. That stuck for another 30 years, until I went to SMS for the first time… I needed a Faerie name.

The last time I saw my childhood friend, we were watching a kid catch strange little fish off the quay in Ludington… gobys. That name is forever linked to his memory, who died shortly before I went to SMS. My friend from age 3… inseparable friend, 6 months younger, and fearless protector while I was still in Chicago. I didn’t know it then… but I was in love him. He comes to me in dreams. That name is forever.

When I began to make art again, and thought how I would sign it–I had gotten news that my uncle Will had Altzheimers. He had been the big brother I never had, an artist and mentor. Introduced me to Kafka and Whitman and Alan Watts. Willard was also the name of my grandfather, who died 2 weeks before I was born. I will sign my art, “Willard.”

Have signed almost 1200 pieces of Art, since… Willard

“Willard” … so, 6 months short of 80… it’s all right to be, Willard now…

but you can call me Goby. 🙂