Il solutio. The solution. It is such an essential part of the alchemical process. It dissolves with water, what has become calcified and hard. Il Solutio wears away the stalactite like physical structures in our bodies and in our consciousness that seem to be so real, and that create the boundaries of what is possible in our experience of ourselves, and of life. Il solutio gradually dissolves physical and emotional limitations for access to the endless beyond.
But what is Il Solutio in everyday terms? Tears. All kinds of tears. Your body is continuously creating tears. Tears to keep your eyes lubricated and bacteria free. Tears to keep your mucous membranes moist. Tears to release emotions that feel overwhelming. Interestingly, not all tears are the same. Tears of grief, tears of joy, tears of relief, all have different chemistries. Your body, the master alchemist, releases toxins, stress hormones, and antibodies through your tears. Tears keep you healthy and relieve stress. Tears release your traumas. Tears release your disappointments. Tears break down the defensive structures of a lifetime that no longer serve your well being. There is no substitute for this process. Nothing frees oneself from emotional and physical restrictions like crying does. Yet, it is one of the most discouraged forms of self expression in western culture, especially for men.
My father died when I was sixteen, and when i was in Graduate School, I was required to undergo psychotherapy as part of my training to become a therapist. What I found in that process was a well of uncried tears. Maybe they hadn't been cried, because I didn't know how to, or knew that they weren't welcome, or because I felt that if they'd started, they wouldn't stop. So for a year I'd go to my Jungian Analyst's office and cry about nothing in particular. It just gave me a container for the release. I'd leave the office crying, then ride the BART crying all the way to San Francisco, get home, make some dinner and go to bed. For a year, I I cried every day, and came to accept that as a normal state. It was incredibly cathartic. It probably saved my life. One day, to my surprise, it stopped.
On and off for many years, I occasionally cried. At the births of my children, during the dying process of my dog, reading about the suffering of others, seeing a moving film. When my eldest son was seven, a classmate of his died from the complications of chemotherapy. At the funeral I cried freely, because I could empathize with his parents, whose child had sat one seat over from mine on the first day of preschool. I saw many men around me keeping a stiff upper lip through the service, and I felt grateful that I didn't feel that obligation. A couple of the mothers came up to me afterwards and told me how pleased they were that I was there. I knew that they were thanking me for not being ashamed of my tears, and I wasn't.
I have for a long time practiced meditation. Probably for twenty five years or so. Sometimes with great diligence and sometimes with less. There is always a workmanlike feeling about it. Meditation is not an airy fairy escape. It is the engagement of one's experience in the moment. A recognition of what is actually going on, beyond the details of the day, and the workings of the mind. For me that begins with a physical assessment of my body. I experience, where I am tight, where I am tense, where I am hard. Over the years, I have found that all I have to do is breathe into this tightness and bring attention to it, and very gradually, it will un-clench. That is my only practice now. Going deeper into tension to its most subtle states. What I always discover in the physical tightness, no matter how subtle it is, corresponds with emotional release. Memories, habits of experiencing myself and the world, emotional pain that I've never faced. Sometimes these experiences seem preverbal, and free of self cognition. Some are very old. Always as the opening happens, there are tears. Some burn like vinegar, some are sweet like honey, and some are bitter like salt. I always feel better afterwards. Crying it turns out, produces endorphins in the body, just like exercise or sex or many addictive substances do. But you don't have to chase these endorphins, they are built into you. You need only to access them with an engagement of your actual emotional state. I always feel healthier, lighter, and as though the structures I am bound by, have slightly dissolved, are a little less fortified, and less permanent after I cry. I think it is the thing that I do that is the most healthful.
Frustration, anxiety, disappointment and sadness are all difficult emotions to endure. To allow oneself to be vulnerable to these emotions is a hard thing to do. But whether you chose to engage them or not, they are still within you, like an undigested meal. Il Solutio is a kind of emotional digestive process. There is something peristaltic in it. The limbic system where unprocessed emotion is stored heals itself through experience. It is a razors edge that almost always cuts in the direction of healing, even if it opens old wounds that have been covered over. If seemingly healed, but lingering wounds are creating restriction in your consciousness, in your body, or in your life, and need to be opened in order to be free, than by all means open them. There is no tool that will open them to be digested and released with more care, more concern or more intelligence than tears will. Il Solutio indeed.
In our culture we are so encouraged to be heroic. Brave, strong, and enduring. Never more so than in the age of Trump, a man who has never felt anything but his need to cover up his suffering with bluster. He represents something so sick in our culture. Rather than meeting bombastic stupidity with aggression, we can resist by welcoming of our vulnerability, now, and in times past, so that we no longer have to defend what is sweet and soft and healthy in us, with what is hard, restricted, and calcified. We can enter those seemingly intractable parts of ourselves, with compassion for our own suffering and a knowingness about the wide open spaces beyond the suffering that we have clamped down on to separate ourselves from where we have been vulnerable and hurt. There is an infinite space beyond those structures. An ocean of love and compassion, and nothing to fear. It is not our courage, or our fighting spirit that accesses the place beyond the known hard boundaries of ourselves, but our willingness to trust the vulnerable emotional release that we may not have not trusted before. Il solutio.