What is Structured Self Presence (SSP):
Structured Self Presence© is the name that I have given to a relational mindfulness practice that I developed, or that developed me back in the mid 1990’s.
Drawing upon and expanding upon traditional mindfulness practices, SSP awakens and illuminates the many dimension of the relational field. It provides a living map and a simple set of tools to help us develop familiarity with and skill at navigating and peacefully inhabiting various kinds and dimensions of reality, of human experience.
SSP mapping – differentiates sensations, movement impulses, mood/emotions, and the quality and content of our mind-space from the blur of human experience.
SSP chunks down experience to the basic building blocks.
It simplifies and clarifies and organizes the practice of mindfulness.
SSP mapping also helps us to identify and work with different dimensions of reality. It helps us to know where we are and thus helps us to know how best to operate within that domain.
Heeding the Call
The structure of self and the emergence of our ego/I as an essential part of that structure is the byproduct of an evolutionary process. If the word intelligence means anything, it is clear that this evolutionary process is Intelligent. We are, in fact and ongoingly, a byproduct of this evolutionary Intelligence. When ego/I is born, when this locus and perspective within that vast sea of consciousness/reality achieves it’s quasi-distinctness, that Intelligence, that Process is able enjoy a relationship with itself. We can say that creation and the Creator gives rise to this mote of light (that’s us) within the larger field of Being so that it can enjoy a relationship with itself. We, you and I are, therefore, part of the discursive life of Spirit. We live within, our being is the embodiment of the life of that discourse and we are ever humbled servants and co-creative participants in the life of that discourse.
As our ego develops, so does our sense of being a discrete individual being. From this vantage point of relative freedom and identity, we are called to remember who we are and where we come from. THIS IS VITAL. We are spirit. We come from spirit. Through many different means, Life calls us to attend to the ground of our arising. When we do, we close the divine discursive circuitry and are able to make our home in that cosmic self-relational discourse.
The practice of SSP is a highly structured practice of learning to heed that call. SSP also provides a basic map so that we remain oriented within that call. When we are oriented, we are more able to effectively honor that call and participate in that discourse.
SSP is a Rigorous Practices of Skillful Love
Develop and strengthen the self-relational circuitry.
One basic function of SSP is to help the ego to mature.
The practice of SSP helps the ego become more strong, supple, transparent, and skillful.
Like any mindfulness practice, the practice of SSP helps us develop the capacity to remain skillfully self-presence to ALL of life.
Through systematic self-presence, life begins to reveal to us the many dimensions of reality within which we always already dwell.
SSP’s mapping helps us to recognize and navigate these different dimensions of reality so that, even as we move in and out of these different modes of being and knowing, our capacity for self-presence is able to grow.
With the practice of SSP, we strengthen the circuitry that connects our higher cortical brain with our reptilian/autonomic and mammalian/limbic brain. Unless we have been raised to pay attention to our bodies and our emotions, the ‘roads’ connecting our pre-frontal lobes with these parts of the brain will be more like narrow country roads. Through the practice of SSP, these become eight lane highways.
When we practice SSP, we not only improve the circuitry within the brain, but we improve the various kinds of circuits that connect brain and body. The brain is connected with body through many means. There are electro-chemical connections, hormonal connections (neuropeptides and such), and other kinds of energetic connections. When we practice SSP, these cannot help but be strengthened.
When we are able to pay attention to our physical sensations, the wisdom of our body is now in relationship with our higher cortical wisdom. This is a powerful feedback loop that grows with practice. Because our body knows all about pain, pleasure, and indifference (Buddhism’s three poisons), our relationship with our body will tend to be governed by the impulses of attraction, aversion, and indifference. With SSP (and other mindfulness practices) we learn to ride the waves not only of our bodily experiences but of our patterns of reactivity to those experiences. We develop a relationship with our body that transcends and includes these patterns of reactivity. This allows us to dwell in a stable relationship with the rich wisdom of our bodies.
The same is true when we practice attending to, and not drowning in the life of our moods and emotions. Our moods and emotions give us our feeling of aliveness. Through our emotions, the world get’s to be felt and we get to feel the world. This is a challenging but also delicious mode of knowing the world. As we learn to ride the waves of our moods and emotions, our feelings of aliveness become ever more able to flow unencumbered through the circuitry of brain and body. Our emotional mind and our higher cortical mind are able to be in an ever more robust and flowing discourse.
When we practice SSP, we are heeding the call of evolutionary intelligence. We are turning, so that through us, Spirit turns to complete a primordial circuit. This circuit is a strange circuit. It is like a möbious strip. One end of the strip dwells in unfathmable and fertile mystery. The other end, is the end that we hold in our hands; incarnate, seeming solid, and somehow more real than the mystery from which it arises. When we turn back to the Source of life, we connect the two ends of that twisted strip of paper and participate in creating an incarnational expression of God’s infinite wisdom. That is, when we join the two ends of that twisted strip of paper, we join the temporal and the eternal. This, according to Kierkegaard is an act of love.
Within the embrace of this larger, spiritual circuit, all other circuits are transformed, transfigured. We are able to sense in the biological circuitry the work of an Intelligence that is unfathomable, powerful, wise, and blessed. In our psychological circuitry, we are able to sense the intimate and almost personal presence of a Creator of which we are clearly an expression and which we are given, in love, to serve.
For SSP, Spiritual Practice Begins at Home:
We begin with the Body
With SSP, we are interested in becoming skillful at tracking, naming, and representing the 3 basic dimensions of experience; our sensations, mood/emotions, and qualities and contents of mind.
SSP treats primary impulses, sensations, mood/emotions, and mind as expressions of the life of Spirit.
For SSP, every experience, every piece of every experience is viewed as a flower in God’s garden and should be treated as such.
Spirit wants to make our brain and bodies it’s playground.
Like most mindfulness practices, one goal of SSP is to harmonize brain and body and mind and body.
Spirit calls us back home – to our bodies, to the experiences that rise up and move through us.
When we return home to the ground of emergent experience – our primary impulses, sensations, mood/emotions, and thoughts – it is as though ego (an aspect of and servant to the life of Spirit) answers the call of of Spirit and meets Spirit at the gates of existence.
Spirit, evolutionary Intelligence, has created the higher cortical brain, that part of our brain that allows that which we call ego/I to arise. Then Spirit calls us to turn that “I” over to Spirit so that Spirit can appropriate and make use of our higher cortical functions for its own incarnational and evolutionary ends.
When we return home, – SSP embodies this return home – when we agree to meet Spirit, Spirit comes into an ever more coherent and unencumbered and complex incarnation and Self-Realization.
SSP is Very Relational
Most mindfulness practices are solitary.
Even when practiced in a community, most mindfulness practices teach us to work within ourselves.
SSP is a practice that is practiced not only with oneself, but also with others. SSP is interested in learning to track the life of Spirit as it animates and shapes not only the intra-personal but also the inter-personal relational field.
Value of SSP
Like any mindfulness practice, SSP helps to quiet the mind.
Because it brings structure to the practice of mindfulness, it can be easier to stay with and explore than some mindfulness practices.
SSP helps us develop familiarity and a loving relationship with our patterns of mind and body.
SSP is a transformational tool. As we identify our patterns, SSP teaches us to relate to the intelligence animating these patterns. When we do, we cannot help but fall in love with these various intelligences. This is the beginning of the transformational action of SSP.